Paulson Institute Convenes Chinese Mayors in Symposium on Sustainable Cities

Paris, France—At the Climate Summit for Local Leaders in Paris today, the Paulson Institute hosted a session titled Cities of the Future: Innovation and Sustainable Urbanization in China, featuring United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change Michael R. Bloomberg, China’s Special Representative on Climate Change Xie Zhenhua, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti, Paulson Institute Senior Fellow Deborah Lehr and eight leading Chinese mayors.

The Climate Summit for Local Leaders is co-hosted by Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of the City of Paris and Michael Bloomberg. The event, hosted on the margins of the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris, is the world’s largest global convening of mayors, governors and local leaders focused on climate change. The aim of the event is to highlight the perspectives of local leaders around the globe on city efforts to address climate change.

During the morning session of speeches and panel discussions, Chinese mayors highlighted their strategies for achieving China’s transition to a low-carbon economy and the challenges in mapping sustainable urbanization strategies. They also discussed opportunities in improving building energy efficiency and establishing green finance mechanisms to bridge the price differential between sustainable and traditional technologies. Deborah Lehr, Senior Fellow at the Paulson Institute, moderated the panels.

“I am encouraged by China’s historic commitments to tackle climate change as part of the country’s transition to achieve sustainable economic growth,” said Paulson Institute Chairman Henry M. Paulson, Jr. “Cities are the key to enabling China to achieve its ambitious carbon emissions targets, and the mayors are on the front lines of that campaign.”

“China has been ahead of the curve in recognizing the pivotal role that cities play in fighting climate change. Cities have the ability to act swiftly, experiment with bold ideas, and share solutions that work,” said Bloomberg. “That’s exactly what more and more of China’s cities are doing, and their work is making a major global impact.”

Xie Zhenhua, China’s Special Representative on Climate Change, said, “China attaches great importance to the role that cities play in addressing climate change. By carrying out pilot low-carbon programs in 42 provinces and cities, China has explored practical and unique models of low-carbon development for cities and achieved positive results. In September, some Chinese cities formed the Alliance of Peaking Pioneer Cities (APPC) and proposed their goals of carbon emissions peak respectively in support of peak national carbon emission around 2030 or even earlier. At the Cities of the Future Panel of the Climate Summit for Local Leaders in Paris, Chinese cities are sharing experiences with other international cities, learning from each other, enhancing consensus on low-carbon development and jointly advancing the global progress of combating climate change.”

“When Presidents Obama and Xi came together to make their historic accord on climate change, it was a hinge of history: a moment in time when we could say that two nations stepped up not to point fingers, not ask questions, but to commit to world-changing directives,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “They have asked us at the local and state level to take the torch and carry it forward. The cities of the U.S. and China have answered that call to action with bold commitments to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.”

Over the next five years, more than 100 million people will move to China’s cities, with enormous environmental implications. To help promote sustainable planning, the Paulson Institute conducts an annual training program for Chinese mayors, who study cutting-edge urban planning and visit several U.S. cities to gain on-the-ground insights. The Institute’s CEO Council for Sustainable Urbanization brings U.S. and Chinese business leaders together to collaborate on model projects that will help promote sustainable urbanization—from green buildings to efficient energy use.

Participating in the Paris conference are:

Mr. HONG Feng, Senior Advisor, Beijing Municipal Government; Mr. TANG Jie, Former Deputy Mayor of Shenzhen; Mr. WAN Yong, Mayor of Wuhan; Madame ZHU Xiaoming, Mayor of Zhenjiang; Mr. YUAN Zhanting, Mayor of Lanzhou; Mr. HUANG Lan, Deputy Mayor of Nanjing; Mr. CHEN Shaorong, Deputy Mayor of Guiyang; and Mr. LI Guanding, Deputy Mayor of Ningbo.

About the Paulson Institute: The Paulson Institute is a “think and do” tank that promotes environmental protection and sustainable development in the United States and China, while advancing bilateral economic relations and cross-border investment. Established in 2011 by Henry M. Paulson, Jr., the Institute is committed to the principle that today’s most pressing economic and environmental challenges can be solved only if the United States and China work in complementary ways.

The non-partisan, independent Institute works at the nexus of economic and environmental issues in the United States and China. Its programs in China focus on improving climate and air quality, advancing ecological conservation and promoting sustainable cities. The Institute’s Think Tank publishes papers on the most important macroeconomic issues facing China today, energy strategies and issues in US-China relations. The Institute promotes bilateral cross-border investment that will improve US-China relations and help create jobs and works to reduce economic risk from climate change. The Institute is headquartered at the University of Chicago and has offices in Washington and Beijing.