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October 2, 2007 > Is your city cool?

Is your city cool?

By Anuja Seith

A leafy green park, sidewalk bistro, happening commercial centers and quality schools within close proximity are all essential ingredients to make a city "cool." But a really cool city balances the effects of homes, buildings and vehicles with energy efficiency and environmental concerns. Some local cities (i.e. Fremont, Hayward, Newark and San Leandro) have pledged to make this effort. Mayors of these cities signed the U.S. Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement (USCPA), initiated by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels in 2005. This was the same year in which the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement to prevent climate disruption, was ratified by 141 countries - a notable exception was the United States.

Cities pledged to meet or beat Kyoto Protocol targets in their communities. Actions include anti-sprawl land-use policies, urban forest restoration projects, public information campaigns and advocating local policies and programs at the state and federal level to prevent greenhouse gas emissions.

To ensure implementation of these goals, the Sierra Club, an environmental organization with its headquarters in San Francisco, launched "cool cities" campaign. "The purpose of the cool cities campaign is to support the agreement and create public pressure to encourage cities to implement smart energy solutions and reduce global warming," says Glen Brand, Director of Cool Cities Campaign at Sierra Club.

This multipurpose campaign helps save taxpayer money through reduced energy use, creates new jobs and purifies the air. Cities signing this agreement have committed to 12 specific practices to achieve the goal of reducing global warming pollution by 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. "Some of these practices include improving energy emission of existing buildings, purchasing renewable power, hybrid vehicles with cleaner engines, promoting tree planting, sensible land use and public transport," says Brand.

Joining local cities who are taking steps to solve this universal problem, Alameda County enlisted in the "Cool Counties Campaign," which aims to reduce global warming emissions by 80 percent in 2050, with a target of two percent annual reduction.

For more information visit www.coolcities.us

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