Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Green Cities Conference Highlights

More from the San Francisco Conference, article highlights followed by link to original source:

"The emphasis on cities is necessary because the vast majority of the world's people will be living in urban areas over the next century, said Jared Blumenfeld, the director of San Francisco's Environment Department, which was created in 1998 through a ballot initiative that centralized the city's environmental policy. "

"It's easy for a head of state to stand up and say he will take action, but it's another thing to implement it," said Blumenfeld, who was involved in the Rio summit. "Part of the problem with these international agreements is you can't hold people accountable.

There is more accountability, Blumenfeld said, when municipalities are involved. "If the mayor of a city promises to put solar panels up," he said, "you know whose door to knock on when he doesn't."

The Green Cities conference will highlight San Francisco's recycling program, mass transportation, solar arrays and the restoration of the Crissy Field tidal wetlands. Problems related to urban sprawl around the Bay Area and the need for sustainable development and corporate responsibility also will be addressed.

Among the programs that will be introduced at the conference is a collaborative effort by the Bay Area Council, an alliance of major employers, to get commitments from 273 of the Bay Area's largest employers to reduce pollution and increase energy efficiency.

"More and more companies are waking up to the fact that business success cannot be sustained when there is substantial environmental degradation," said Power, whose organization will play a major role at the conference. "There is a recognition that what's good for the planet is good for business. But companies still have a long way to go, particularly U.S. companies that are being seriously outflanked by their European counterparts."

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