'Govts must take urgent steps to make sustainable cities'

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New Delhi, Nov 20 (UNI) Visiting London Mayor Ken Livingstone and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit today called for immediate and concrete measures to tackle climate change and expressed their keeness to explore how cities could work together and learn from each other to achieve lasting environmental changes.

Addressing a conference here on creating sustainable cities, Mr Livingstone said urban areas are responsible for over three quarters of greenhouse gas emissions, so the battle to prevent catastrophic climate change will be won or lost in cities. ''By working together, cities are putting themselves at the forefront of the challenge to mitigate and adapt to climate change,'' he added.

He launched a project, 'Right Trees for London's Changing Climate Project', to help plant more trees suitable for London's future climate, and said this was inspired by the massive tree planting initiative that is being undertaken by Delhi.

He said the project will ensure that in London the right trees are planted in the right place, as the city's climate changes. It will also allow professionals to access data on a range of suitable tree species.

He said London is projected to become warmer, with wetter winters and hotter, drier summers. It will also enable London's parks, woodlands and street trees to continue to thrive by encouraging and arming planners, boroughs, landscape designers and developers with the best available advice. The first example of the guidance being used in London will be by the Olympic Delivery Authority, who will be procuring trees for the Olympic site for the 2012 Games next year.

Speaking on the occasion, Ms Dikshit described the initiatives taken by her Government to improve Delhi's air quality through the world's largest network of CNG (Carbon Neutral Gas) fuelled buses, as well as waste, recycling and water initiatives, apart from the tree planting programme.

She expressed her commitment to take most feasible practical steps for mitigation of carbon emission in the Capital-city.

She expressed confidence that public transport system in Delhi would substantially improve in coming years and people would like to travel in city transport in spite using their personal vehicles.

Also addressing the conference, Dr Rajendra K Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which this year won the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore for their joint efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, said,''Architects, builders and planners need to attempt taking our cities and towns back to a green rural ambience.'' This would require trees being planted in areas dedicated to greencover along roads and sidewalks as well as integrated with buildings. There is no reason why large buildings for instance cannot be covered with greenery on the rooftops, on the sides and certainly in surrounding areas of land. The challenge of climate change requires changes in mindsets and a shift to sustainable development, he said.

The conference took place as part of the Mayor's official week-long visit to India entitled "London in India: Partners in Globalisation", to promote London as a destination for business, tourism, studying and creative industries and to strengthen relationships between London and India.


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