Meet the Climate Alliance COP21 Ambassadors: Local Leaders in Paris

Climate Alliance
Nov 30, 2015 · 6 min read

Climate Alliance, a network of local governments committed to climate action, will be bringing the voice of local actors to the international climate negotiations arena during the two weeks of COP21. To support this mission, a group of Climate Alliance “Ambassadors” composed of local elected representatives will show global leaders how local and subnational governments are taking ambitious action to mitigate and adapt to climate change. They will be sharing their inspiring examples, passing on our key messages and pledging their support to an ambitious and binding #Paris2015 Agreement. Find out more about our Ambassadors!

Joost Venken, Deputy Mayor of Hasselt, Belgium

Joost Venken has served as Deputy Mayor of the lively city of Hasselt since 2014, where he is in charge of environment, sustainability, energy, development cooperation, animal welfare and the city’s Nature Education Centre. Joost is a proud father of three and is passionate about politics that promote and commit to sustainable and fair societies.

“My city experienced the consequences of climate change in a very hard way. In August 2011, a devastating storm hit the Pukkelpop festival . Out of 60,000 visitors, 5 didn’t survive and about 140 were severely injured. The former president of the IPCC, Van Ypersele, linked this particular storm to our changing climate. The floods, forest-fires and storms — also in the ‘wealthy North’ — teach us two things: climate change is happening here and it will be the local authorities that have to deal with it. Via mitigation and, unfortunately, already adaptation. Hasselt is, within the frameworks of the Covenant of Mayors and Mayors Adapt initiative, working on it. By trying to achieve the 20/20/20 EU goals in its territory, by renovating its own buildings, by encouraging inhabitants to do the same… That’s why I can be so bold as to ask the negotiators of COP21 one thing: think global, but keep in mind that all the consequences of climate change are felt locally and have to be dealt with locally …”

Mercè Conesa i Pagès, President of Barcelona Provincial Council, Spain

Mercè has been the President of the Province of Barcelona since 2015, becoming the first woman to take this position. From 2011 to 2015 she served as vice-president. Before her political career, she worked as professor of administrative law at the University of Barcelona as well as in the Catalan Association of Municipalities and the Directorate General of Local Administration of Catalonia.

“Local governments are very concerned about the strong impacts of climate change. We believe that COP21 in Paris is an opportunity to say loud and clear that we, the local governments, are a major player in the struggle against climate change. We will not miss this opportunity!”

Boris Palmer, Lord Mayor of Tübingen, Germany

Boris is the Lord Mayor of the city of Tübingen, having been elected in 2006, at the age of 34, and reelected in 2014. He was the first Green party Lord Mayor to ever be elected in the first round of voting in Germany. For Palmer, climate action is a topic of central importance. He is author of a book on the Tübingen experience in climate action entitled, ‘Eine Stadt macht blau- das Tübinger Klimaschutzmodell’. In his free time, he enjoys sports and cycling.

“Think local, act global! Until now, this motto applied in reverse for the environmental movement. And indeed, many local authorities are leading the way with concrete climate mitigation measures. Of equal importance are the new ideas which emanate from cities. We know how to do it and we know what support we need from the international community in order to implement climate mitigation measures successfully. This is why it is crucial that the voices of local authorities be heard at the Climate Summit. Then we can act globally, locally.”

Tine Heyse, Deputy Mayor of Ghent, Belgium and President of Climate Alliance

Tine Heyse is Deputy Mayor for Environment, Climate, Energy and Development in Ghent and has been part of the City Council since 2000. Climate and energy have been common themes throughout her career. She spent 10 years working for Greenpeace, took a post at the Federal Ministry of Environment and has served as an expert for the Green party. She is a passionate about birdwatching.

“In its mission statement, the city of Ghent indicates that it wants to be a front runner in the transition to a climate neutral city. Even though cities are part of the solution when it comes to taking action against climate change, they cannot deal with this problem alone. As deputy mayor for Climate & Energy, I want to call on international negotiators taking part in the COP21 in Paris to take responsibility — the meeting in Paris should result in an ambitious and binding agreement.”

Julie Laernoes, Vice-President of Nantes Métropole, France and Board Member of Climate Alliance

Julie Laernoes is vice-president of Nantes Métropole where she is in charge of the energy transition, energy, climate and sustainable development. Since 2014, Julie has also served as Nantes City Councillor for energy and buildings. Previously, she worked for the regional council of Pays de la Loire and Europe Ecology — the Greens.

“Three quarters of the world population is living in urbanised areas. That is why Nantes Métropole has always put great effort in acting both locally and globally. We have committed ourselves to reduce our emissions by 50% by 2030 and are part of Covenant of Mayors. As a Climate Alliance Ambassador during COP21, I will help demonstrate that by acting together, cities can make a difference. Their action should be recognised on the international level and their achievements should encourage a more ambitious international climate agreement in Paris.”

Keep up to date on Climate Alliance activities, insights and impressions directly from Paris via Twitter and Facebook!

About Climate Alliance

For more than 25 years, Climate Alliance member municipalities have been acting in partnership with indigenous rainforest peoples for the benefit of the global climate. With over 1,700 members spread across 26 European countries, Climate Alliance is the world’s largest city network dedicated to climate action and the only one to set tangible targets: each member city, town and district has committed itself to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent every 5 years. Recognising the impact our lifestyles can have on the world’s most vulnerable people and places, Climate Alliance pairs local action with global responsibility. The network fosters cooperation with indigenous peoples, runs awareness raising campaigns and develops tools for climate action planning. It provides ample opportunity for participation and exchange while representing member interests at the national, European and international levels.

Climate Alliance is an UNFCCC observer organisation and member of the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) Constituency. The city network is also part of the Local Government Climate Roadmap, which advocates for the recognition and empowerment of as well as engagement with local governments in the global climate regime.

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