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Cool Cities Not So Cool?

Posted Oct 07 2008 7:19pm
A couple of weeks ago, I highlighted the Sierra Club's "Cool Cities" initiative as the Live Earth Leader of the Week at Living Live Earth. Cities considered "cool" are those whose mayors have signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement -- a non-binding pact among them to follow the Kyoto Protocol that our own federal government rejected.

In researching Cool Cities, I was pleased to see that my own hometown of Phoenix, Arizona is one of them. What I wasn't thrilled to see was a link that read: "be the first to sign up as an activist in this city and help the mayor follow through on his or her commitment."

As intimidated as I was by the thought of becoming the first (and presumably only) Cool Cities activist in Phoenix, I signed up anyway. If I'm asking Living Live Earth readers to get involved, I better be willing to do the same, and was shocked that no one else had taken the initiative.

Considering how high-profile the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement has been in recent months, I expected a response to my email almost immediately. Surely they'd be overcome with excitement that a concerned citizen like me had finally signed on to help push the mayor, Phil Gordon, into adopting the changes he'd "promised."

Wrong.

It's been at least two weeks since I emailed Cool Cities about becoming an activist in my area, and I have yet to receive a response. I forgot all about it until I read this headline in one of my Grist newsletters last week:

"Not in a Bind: Mayoral climate-protecting agreement hasn't necessarily translated into action."

The article cites the failure of the mayors themselves, but as the Cool Cities initiative states, the real action should come from community members pushing our leaders to follow through:

"Your campaign may ask for a carbon inventory and creation of a climate action plan," reads the Cool Cities website. "You might ask for the creation of a citizen task force, or you may have determined that your next step is to push for a specific policy in green buildings, green fleets, or renewable energy."

In other words, it's up to the citizens of member cities to not only hold our mayors responsible for their promises, but also to tell them what we want and why so they know what to do. Of course, it doesn't help when the infrastructure for a plan of action breaks down.

Though I wrote Cool Cities at least two weeks ago and said I'd do it, the Phoenix profile still reads "be the first to sign up as an activist in this city." So now I've taken a different approach, by "joining the campaign" on the "Get Involved" page. I received an email urging me to, among other things, sign up as the team lead for my city if there isn't one already. I'll try again and report back with my findings.
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