by Juliana Kenny
On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that Boston, Massachusetts will be the site of a 2017 climate change summit that will host leaders from the U.S. and China.
The U.S. and China are arguably the two primary leaders of the global effort to stem climate change. Beijing’s smog problem has emerged as an emblem of China’s climate problem and required dedication to improving the environment. Los Angeles is the U.S.’s smog-ridden city par excellence, and one that is often cited as the national symbol of fossil fuel dependence. But Boston has its own emissions issues, a point Kerry did not overlook. The Boston Globe quotes him:
“It’s a big deal for Boston. L.A. Beijing. Now Boston?. That’s a pretty big statement in and of itself.”
He also noted the city’s work thus far: “Boston is a coastal city that understands the threat of rising sea levels and extreme weather. It has already taken extreme steps in order to reduce emissions and mitigate the harmful effects of climate change.”
Coincidentally, Boston’s Mayor Marty Walsh spoke at The Second China-U.S. Climate-Smart Low-Carbon Cities Summit in Beijing on Tuesday. The National Geographic’s adaptation of his speech reads, in part:
As a coastal city, Boston faces special challenges. We are facing rising sea levels and more intense storms. You may have heard about Boston’s historic winter in 2015, when we received nearly 3 meters of snow in 3 months. This was no coincidence. It was very likely a result of climate change.
We know that climate action only works when we get everyone involved: our government, our businesses, neighborhoods, and residents. Through our Greenovate Boston initiative, we are engaging all of Boston’s residents and businesses to do their part in reducing our environmental impact.
President Obama has, in the past, underscored the importance of China’s and the U.S.’s partnership in the global effort to combat greenhouse gas emissions and advance environmental preservation. In April, around the signing of the Paris Agreement, he noted that it was only by serving as leaders that other smaller nations would follow suit in reducing carbon emissions and protecting themselves against a Beijing or Los Angeles-type sky.