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Mayors Voices: Houston Mayor Annise Parker

Houston has been elected to serve on the C40 Steering Committee. In this post, Houston Mayor Annise Parker describes why she is looking forward to helping to fulfill C40’s mission.

I am honored to have been elected by my fellow C40 mayors to serve as a member of the C40’s Steering Committee.

Cities are the backbone of the effort to combat and prepare for climate change, and C40 is the pre-eminent global organization supporting city initiatives and programs to both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks.

The C40 Steering Committee has representation from six of C40’s seven regions to provide strategic oversight and ensure the organization’s mission and mandates are directly driven by, and responsive to, the needs of C40 Cities.

I will be joining C40 Chair New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, as well as mayors from Berlin, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Johannesburg, London, New York, Seoul and Tokyo.

I look forward to sharing our sustainability initiatives and best practices, discussing challenges and opportunities, as well as learning from other cities’ experiences so that Houston, as well as our fellow C40 cities, can continue to successfully prepare for and take action to combat climate change.

Houston has had its challenges, but I have fought to reduce emissions and make Houston more sustainable since I became Mayor in 2010. The City of Houston has committed and invested in many programs that reduce cost, improve efficiencies and decrease GHG emissions. And the work is paying off. According to recent data published in the 2013 Carbon Disclosure Project report, the City’s municipal operations emissions have realized a 26% decrease from the 2007 greenhouse gas emissions inventory.

Our work includes implementing a municipal energy efficiency retrofit program that upgraded 6 million square feet of the City’s buildings to achieve 30% energy reductions; purchasing over 140 MW of renewable power which accounts for 50 percent of our annual electricity demand, making Houston the largest municipal purchaser in the U.S.; increasing the City’s hybrid and electric fleet; launching bike share and creating a 150-mile greenway system on the banks of our bayous. These programs have helped us achieve and surpass our emissions goals as well as enhance our quality of life and competitiveness.

My fellow mayors are also seeing similar success, but we cannot stop. We must continue to collaborate and share resources to find and implement innovations that will improve urban life.

As a new C40 Steering Committee member, I am committed to working with my fellow mayors to prepare for climate changes, and to commit city resources to reduce emissions. Our collaborations with the private sector, as well as our strong commitment to lead by example, give us a unique voice to add to the conversation, and find solutions.

My favorite part about living in Houston is its diversity and entrepreneurial spirit—if you can dream it, you can achieve it here. I hope to bring that spirit to C40. Working together, we can build a more resilient, healthier future for all C40 Cities.

To read Houston’s press release announcing its election to the C40 Steering Committee, click here.