The World’s First Global Climate Agreement: An Austin Perspective


Earlier this month, Council Member Leslie Pool  joined a delegation of Austin elected officials (Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Commissioner Brigid Shea) in Paris demonstrate the willingness of cities to join in on the global fight against climate change. They attended lots of events (including the Climate Summit for Local Leaders and the C40Cities Forum) held in tandem with the larger UN climate talks where they touted Austin’s ambitious climate agenda and committed themselves to continued emissions reduction. After their return, delegates in Paris announced that an agreement had finally been made and the world’s first real global climate accord was approved.

From Austin City Council Member Leslie Pool, upon the adoption of the landmark climate accord in Paris:

Showing up and being ready, as my father regularly counseled me as a girl, constitute the most important part of life. And last week, the UN Climate Conference and the Cities & Regional Forum were good places to be for Mayor Adler, Commissioner Shea and me to share our city’s best practices with colleagues from around the world. It was a unique opportunity to meet with colleagues from far reaches of the globe on all kinds of topics that affect us at the local, municipal level. Austin is an early-adopter kind of city, we have a pretty good track record: we’ve been out front in terms of sustainability, of recognizing the importance of reducing greenhouse gases, of protecting our open spaces and our urban forests. The solar purchases Council just recently committed to – purchase agreements totaling close to 600 mw – put Austin at the front lines of renewables, and our use of combined wind and solar represent big strides to reducing our carbon emissions.

You’ve likely had this experience yourselves: When I was asked where I was from, and I answered “Austin, Texas,” to a person faces brightened, people smiled and immediately leaned in to hear more.

Austin’s reputation as a city that not only supports music and the creative industries, tech and start-ups, is growing as we demonstrate our commitment to renewables and environmental protection for future generations. We of course have a lot of work ahead of us, but last week’s experience pointed out very clearly that we’re on the right road, moving at a good pace, with our intentions well-limned that we intend to do more.

And as I was writing this, listening to the 11th meeting of ‪#‎COP21‬Paris proceedings … just now …….. the Climate Agreement was ADOPTED!

“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”   ― Nelson Mandela
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