Mayors are doing it for themselves - divesting their cities of fossil fuels, and globally convening in Bristol


As cities assert themselves as one of the most effective scales of governance - small enough to motivate the citizenry, big enough to get change enacted - elected mayors become significant political players. And on the big questions - like climate change - the big cities are just deciding to act.

Take this report on a joint statement between Bill De Blasio, New York mayor, and London’s Sadiq Khan:

In both London and New York – we are taking all possible steps to divest our city pension funds from fossil fuels.

Already, less than 2% of the London Pension Fund Authority’s investments of £5.5bn ($7.1bn) are in extractive fossil fuels – this year, the authority has rid itself of a further £700,000 of fossil fuel investments, including stakes in Shell and BP, and has plans in place to divest its remaining investments.

In New York, divestment is under way, with the goal of total divestment within five years. This will mean removing some $5bn (£3.8bn) in investment from the industry.

Both our cities are also investing in a sustainable future. London recently launched the £500m Mayor’s Energy Efficiency Fund, working with the European Regional Development Fund and private sector investors to help hospitals, museums, offices, libraries, social housing and universities to become greener and more energy efficient.

New York City has increased its solar-energy capacity six-fold since 2013 and is investing $2.7bn in energy-efficiency projects that save New Yorkers money and cut emissions. City government now has more than 1,200 electric vehicles and 500 charging stations.

Good to hear.

And on October 21–23, in Bristol, the Global Parliament of Mayors has its latest convention (website and programme). The mayors attending is a glittering global spectacle - from Bogor, Indonesia to Bali, Cameroon, Barberà del Vallès, Spain to Beira, Mozambique. The Parliament was founded by the late Benjamin Barber, whose book If Mayors Ruled the World is a stirring template for municipal leadership.

Bristol is making the most of the Parliament’s visit - by co-scheduling The Economics of Happiness 2018 conference. More from them here:

This event will bring together people from diverse backgrounds and interest groups in search of solutions to the growing crises we now face – from widespread financial insecurity to epidemics of anxiety and depression, from climate change to the erosion of democracy.

We will be looking beyond single-issue approaches to change-making and the outdated theatre of Left/Right politics to explore the foundations of systemic change… We aim to provide a journey of learning and exchange which helps all participants build stronger place-based economies for thriving lives on a flourishing planet.  This, we believe, is the most important single thing we can do to create a better world.

The event is also co-organised by Happy City, which we’ll profile in a later post.