Local Climate Leaders Circle Delegation Makes an Impact

ICLEI co-hosted a delegation of mayors and local officials called the Local Climate Leaders Circle for one week in Paris, and hardly a moment was lost.  From panels to summits to bilateral meetings; with Senators, Cabinet officials, and mayors from around the world; in the “Blue Zone” to City Hall and everywhere in between -the Leaders Circle represented US local governments admirably, and the partners ICLEI, NLC, WWF, and USGBC could not be prouder.  In the end, the US boasted the largest delegation of local officials of any of the almost 200 nations in Paris, and they made their voices heard.

The week started with a briefing for local leaders at our hotel near the Champs-Elysees.  The Leaders Circle went into the negotiations well aware of complex issues surrounding finance, adaptation, and especially mitigation issues like measurement and verification, ambition mechanisms, and long-term goals.  On each issue, cities were recognized as models – using global standards to consistently measure and report emissions; regularly revisiting and updating emissions targets; and increasingly adopting 80% by 2050 or carbon neutral long-term goals.  The group had many opportunities to advocate for progressive solutions around these topics, including in meetings with Cabinet officials from Agriculture, Energy, and the Interior as well as with US Deputy Special Envoy on Climate Change, Karen Florini, at the US Ambassador’s Residence.


Hartley Florini briefing
US Ambassador to France Jane Hartley welcoming the delegation to a briefing at her home with Deputy Special Envoy Karen Florini


On Friday, they had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to celebrate their climate achievements at the Climate Summit for Local Leaders at Paris City Hall, Hôtel de Ville.  Co-hosted by Michael Bloomberg and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, the Summit featured speakers like French President Francois Hollande, Tesla/SolarCity CEO Elon Musk, Leonardo DiCaprio, and others.  While there, the Leaders Circle had a chance to visit with a delegation of US Senators and speak with news outlets from around the world, thanks to their leadership in the Compact of Mayors.


Saturday was Actions Day at the COP site Le Bourget, a time when the world’s focus turned to solutions that are being implemented now and creating momentum for long-term progress.  Leaders Circle members presented at ICLEI’s Cities and Regions Pavilion, the main space for local governments in the civil society at Le Bourget, as part of our Transformative Actions Program.  Throughout the week, delegation participants showcased their local best practices in more than 15 session presentations around the COP!  ICLEI USA also launched our ClearPath emissions management software globally in association with the Compact of Mayors on Saturday; read more about that milestone here.


US Center Schaaf Heartwell
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell speak at the State Department’s US Center


Saturday evening was a time to celebrate the accomplishments of Week 1, starting with a reception at the Residence of the US Ambassador to France, Jane Hartley.  From there, they attended a reception at the Eiffel Tower hosted by the Mayor of Paris, with a few ending the night at a dinner put on by 100 Resilient Cities – and getting much needed rest on Sunday.


Reed interview
Mayor Kasim Reed of Atlanta interviewing at the Climate Summit for Local Leaders


Week 2 started on Monday with a meeting with business leaders from the Business Council on Sustainable Energy and a variety of speaking engagements highlighting US leadership, such as a Compact of Mayors side event in the Blue Zone.  The delegation’s time in Paris ended Tuesday with a special meeting with White House CEQ Chair Christy Goldfuss and President Obama’s Science Advisor John Holdren.  The message was heard loud and clear that the Administration continues to view local governments and networks as a critical partner in achieving the national climate goals set forth in Paris.


white house briefing
White House briefing


Though the COP is drawing to an end, the opportunities for local governments to lead on climate are in some ways only beginning, and we at ICLEI look forward to building on the 25-year tradition of local climate action beyond Paris!
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