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President’s Blog: Rising To The Challenge

David Newman, President of WBA, and Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive of WBA, were invited to the C40 World Mayors Summit in October in Copenhagen. Here is David’s reflection of this prestigious event:

 

C40 is an organisation of cities working together on an agenda of sustainability, including meeting the Paris Climate commitments.  Once consisting of 40 cities it now includes nearly 100 and represents 10% of the world’s population and 25% of world’s GHG emissions.  Mayors of these cities meet annually, and this year the event was held in Copenhagen. A new Chair was elected as Anne Hidalgo Mayor of Paris was replaced by Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles.

WBA has worked with C40 in 2018 to produce the report on Food Waste Management which is a guide for cities on how to manage urban food waste. You can download it here. As a result C40 invited WBA to take part in the annual meeting in Copenhagen, and it was an exhilarating two days.

I have been to high level meetings before at the UN, the EU and so on, but rarely have I been able to listen to such an experienced and qualified set of speakers – UN General Secretary António Guterres, Michael Bloomberg, Al Gore, the Prime Minister of Denmark (Mette Frederiksen), and mayors from Asia, Africa, Europe and North America. Quite surprising in fact is the commitment of mayors from major US cities who totally oppose the environmental policies of the Trump administration – an outstanding speaker closing the event was US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez whose fiery passion sent us home determined to do more.

But the really exceptional speaker of the two days for me was Al Gore. His 30 minute speech was met by a standing ovation. His mastery of the issues, his persuasive explanation of the causes of climate change and his passionate call for us to not be a generation of “moral cowards” – this was all outstanding, moving and inspirational.

You can see his speech below. I am not sure if the passion comes across in video as much as it did live, but I (and many people around me) were emotionally very moved by the intensity of his speech. It again gave those of us who have been working on these issues for years some sense that we are not alone, not wasting our time, not working on a matter we alone see as important – he helped me understand the enormity of the challenge we have ahead whilst holding the belief that we can rise to that and overcome the risks of uncontrolled climate change.

António Guterres gave us some detail of what needs to be done – reduce and eliminate the subsidies to fossil fuels; put climate at the centre of government policies; invest rapidly in climate-friendly technologies and renewable energies;  adhere to the Sustainable Development Goals as a core series of commitments for the future of humanity.

Thanks go to our friends at C40 for organising an event that was not only inspirational but also very well managed and a wonderful occasion for meeting new (and old) friends working together on these issues. WBA’s role is to ensure the wider international community knows what our industry can achieve towards the SDGs, and here was an exceptional opportunity to get those messages across.

 

David Newman

President, World Biogas Association

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