Sixteen cities around the world will begin cutting carbon emissions by renovating city-owned buildings with green technology under a program spearheaded by former President Clinton's foundation.
NEW YORK -- Sixteen cities around the world will begin cutting carbon emissions by renovating city-owned buildings with green technology under a program spearheaded by former President Clinton's foundation.
Bill Clinton was to announce the partnership Wednesday, joined by mayors of several of the cities, as part of an international climate summit he is hosting this week in New York City.
Clinton's foundation described details to The Associated Press ahead of the announcement. Major global banking institutions have committed $1 billion to finance the upgrades of municipal buildings in participating cities, which include New York, Chicago, Houston, Toronto, Mexico City, London, Berlin and Tokyo.
The makeovers will include replacing heating, cooling and lighting systems with energy-efficient networks; making roofs white or reflective to deflect more of the sun's heat; sealing windows and installing new models that let more light in; and setting up sensors to control more efficient use of lights and air conditioning.
Clinton's foundation said the planned changes have the potential to reduce energy use by 20 percent to 50 percent in those buildings. The reduction could mean a significant decrease in heat-trapping carbon emissions, as well as cost savings on utility bills.
Buildings often represent a city's worst culprits in contributing to emissions. In New York, for example, the consumption of electricity, natural gas, fuel oil and steam needed to operate buildings generates 79 percent of the city's total carbon count.
Ira Magaziner, chairman of the Clinton Climate Initiative, said cities and private building owners would like to build and renovate with more energy efficiency, but often cannot put up the initial costs.
The partnership with Citigroup Inc., Deutsche Bank AG, JPMorgan Chase & Co., UBS AG, and ABN Amro will make that possible and benefits everyone involved, he said.
"They're going to save money, make money, create jobs and have a tremendous collective impact on climate change all at once," Clinton said in a statement.
With the money from the banks, cities will get the green technology at no cost. The program assumes that cities already have money in their budgets set aside for building operations and will pay back loans, plus interest, through the energy savings that the projects achieve over several years.
To ensure those savings are realized, Honeywell International Inc., Johnson Controls Inc., Siemens AG and American Standard Cos. Inc. will conduct energy audits of the buildings, complete the makeovers and guarantee the energy savings.
If the expected savings are not realized, those companies will pay the difference or make the changes in the buildings to achieve the savings, the foundation said.
To expedite the project, the bank paperwork and building permitting will be streamlined so that the work can begin on groups of buildings, rather than one at a time, Magaziner said. That could happen as soon as this summer.
"By bringing together cities and partnering with the private sector, President Clinton and the Clinton foundation are providing the tools to help cities achieve our goals," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.
London Mayor Ken Livingstone called the agreement a "considerable breakthrough."
"This procurement alliance will make it financially feasible for cities to radically cut emissions from buildings," he said in a statement.
The other cities are Rome; Delhi, India; Karachi, Pakistan; Seoul, South Korea; Bangkok, Thailand; Melbourne, Australia; Sao Paolo, Brazil; and Johannesburg, South Africa. The foundation expects the partnership to expand to more cities and companies after the first round.
The agreement comes during the second meeting of the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit. During the first day of the summit on Tuesday, mayors and local leaders from all of the participating cities said it was up to them to take action on climate change, and that they could not afford to wait for their countries to enact national policies.
"Unfortunately, it has fallen to the mayors to do it because at the federal level in this country and other countries, they seem to be tied up," Bloomberg said.
The motivation behind the gathering is the concept that cities bear a significant responsibility to address climate change because they cover less than 1 percent of the Earth's surface but are overwhelmingly responsible for polluting it, generating 80 percent of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
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Source: Associated Press