From electric cars to bike lanes and solar panels, how mayors across the world are promoting a green economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic
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By Anastasia Moloney
BOGOTA, July 15 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) –More than 40 mayors of major cities from Montreal to Medellin pledged on Wednesday to push for a "green and just" economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The mayors, part of a global network of cities fighting climate change, said they are committed to investing in green jobs and low-carbon transport as part of efforts to stimulate economies flattened by virus shutdowns.
A green recovery would be good for business, as well as cutting planet-heating emissions, said the members of the C40 network of cities.
By spending $1.8 trillion a year - about 2 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) - cities could eliminate 90% of their emissions and create 87 million jobs by 2030, they estimated.
Here's what mayors across the world are doing to promote greener cities:
- Hong Kong: The government is promoting the use of electric cars in the city by subsidizing the installation of charging points in car parks of private residential buildings.
- Rotterdam: The Dutch port city has so far allocated 150 million euros ($170 million) for solar and wind energy projects as part of its aim to boost clean energy and halve its use of materials based on fossil fuels by 2030.
City Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb also has pledged to set up a 9.5 million euro fund to help businesses and residents retrofit homes and offices with solar or wind power, and plant-covered green roofs to absorb carbon emissions and improve air quality. The city also is planning seven large new green areas and parks across the city to reduce heatwave risks.
- Seoul: Plans are underway to retrofit and cap the emissions on old and large public buildings that account for nearly 70% of the city's greenhouse gas emissions.
The city also will tighten zero-energy building standards for new buildings. Both measures aim to create about 20,000 green jobs by 2022.
- Medellin: Colombia's second city plans to train 25,000 residents in new skills to access green jobs as the city tries to become a software and technology hub.
- Cape Town: The city is investing in retrofitting houses in low-income neighbourhoods and is training and hiring people from poor communities to carry out the work. A pilot project has improved the living conditions in more than 2,000 homes, cut emissions and created more than 2,300 jobs.
- Los Angeles: City hall has backed installation of free solar panels on the homes of nearly 2,000 low-income families, employing 200 people released from prison to do the work.
- Lisbon: In response to COVID-19 and to allow for social distancing on public transport as well as to promote the use of green energy, Lisbon is building new, dedicated bus lanes and buying more trams and electric buses than previously planned.
- Montreal: Since the coronavirus started, Montreal has created 300km (185 miles) of new bike and walking paths across the city in two months.
- Seattle: The city has permanently closed to cars 20 miles of city streets so residents can use them for biking and walking.
- Freetown: In Sierra Leone's capital, authorities are looking at building an electric cable car network to ease traffic and promote greener public transport.
Work also has started on planting a million new trees by 2021 to help ease flooding and landslide risks as climate change brings more severe rainy seasons.
(Reporting by Anastasia Moloney; Editing by Laurie Goering. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)