Expert advice on sustainable development
Martha Delgado is a leading figure in the environmental movement involved in political society in Mexico. Her leadership results from over 20 years of experience in various civil society organizations dedicated to sustainable development and 15 years of experience in public administration at the federal and local levels.
GLOBE spoke with Martha about her work with the Global Cities Covenant on Climate Secretariat and in-line with her participation at the upcoming GLOBE 2014 Conference, taking place in Vancouver, Canada, from March 26-28.
GLOBE: From 2006-2012, you served as Mexico City’s minister of environment and were involved with the development of its Climate Action Plan, “Plan Verde” (Green Plan), and Bicycle Mobility Strategy. What was the single greatest challenge for you in engaging a mega-city with a population the size of Mexico City’s to take widespread action?
Martha Delgado: Mexico City used to be known as the most polluted city in the world. Converting this old image into a very different one was our challenge – it can´t be done just by organizing a good communications campaign. The vision, goals, and citizens’ behavior must be transformed in order to transform the city into a great place for living.
GLOBE: You now serve as the director general of the Global Cities Covenant on Climate Secretariat. From your experience, what are three of the top actions that cities around the world can take in order to adapt their communities to a changing climate?
MD: Sustainable transportation must be strongly promoted as a priority for mayors and municipal governments. Private sector must make commitments to energy efficiency programs. And citizens should rethink and change their entire consumption patterns.
GLOBE: Many cities around the world are making unprecedented investments in sustainability, but lingering challenges remain about measuring and reporting on the success of these initiatives. What are some of the key metrics and performance indicators that can be used to measure and track a cities progress to becoming more “resilient”?
MD: Definitely having an Adaptation Program for the city is a very good way to start. It should include the evaluation of the risks for those cities, and also the strategies and actions to take for reducing their vulnerability. Some important indicators are also related connected to the ability of a city to react to climate disasters, the investments on infrastructure to prepare the city for extreme weather events, and the level of awareness of the citizens about these challenges.
GLOBE: You will be joining other urban sustainability leaders from around the world at GLOBE 2014 this March 26-28 in Vancouver, Canada, as a speaker in the “Building Resilient Cities” theme. What message do you hope to bring to the international delegates and audience that will be attending GLOBE 2014?
MD: Despite of the strong leadership and extraordinary work displayed for UNFCCC climate negotiations, national governments have been uncommitted, with low levels of ambition coming from the negotiators. The great hope for fighting global warming is found in the leadership of the mayors of the world, those with fewer resources but a greater understanding and vision, who are taking strong and inspiring actions to reduce GHG emissions and adapt their communities to global warming. Local governments should be recognized and supported in order to exercise this leadership and assume these big responsibilities.
Photo credit: Norman NG
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.