27 of the world’s largest cities say they’ve drastically reduced their carbon footprints.

While a hurricane ravages America’s east coast, sea levels rise around the globe, and the world’s largest ice shelves begin to destabilize, it’s hard to feel optimistic about the Earth’s future.

But on Thursday, September 13, as part of the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) in San Francisco, leaders from 27 of the world’s largest cities announced their climate-harming carbon emissions have peaked and are now on a downward trajectory. The cities — which include some of the world’s largest — also pledged to cut them further.

To qualify, the cities had to have peaked at least six years ago, and the peak had to be at least 10% higher than the most recent emissions data.


Barcelona, Basel, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, Copenhagen, Heidelberg, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Melbourne, Milan, Montréal, New Orleans, New York City, Oslo, Paris, Philadelphia, Portland, Rome, San Francisco, Stockholm, Sydney, Toronto, Vancouver, Warsaw and Washington, DC have all seen their emissions fall over the last five years.

These cities are home to over 54 million people.

“It is an incredible achievement for these 27 cities, including Paris, to have peaked their emissions,” C40 network chair and Paris mayor, Anne Hidalgo, said. “As the greatest custodians of the Paris Agreement, mayors of the world’s great cities have once again shown that cities are getting the job done.”

via UNclimatechange/Flickr

According to C40 Cities, a coalition of local governments working to fulfill the goals of the Paris Climate agreement, the 27 cities are seeing emissions fall an average of 2% per year while their economies have grown at a rate of 3%.

The tremendous gains by these municipalities proves how emissions can be cut without having to sacrifice economic gains.

For example, San Francisco hit peak greenhouse emissions in 2000 and has reduced them by over 30% since 1990. During this time, the city’s population has grown by 20% and its economy by 111%.

The news comes as scientists warn that global emissions must peak by 2020 to avoid environmental catastrophe.

Reversing the rise in global emissions by the target date is important because it helps meet the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal of “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels”.

According to Real Climate, the Earth’s temperature has risen 1 °C since the late 19th century. If it were to rise another 1 °C, it would likely result in a massive destabilization of the planet’s ice sheets, causing sea levels to rise significantly throughout the planet.

via geekslop/Flickr

American participation in the C40 network and the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) flies the face of President Donald Trump who has  called climate change a "hoax" and pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

California Governor Jerry Brown was blunt about his opinion of the president at GCAS. When asked how Trump will be remembered, Brown replied, “I think he'll be remembered, on the path he's now? I don't know. Liar, criminal, fool,” the governor said according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

The work done by Governor Brown and other American lawmakers shows how local governments can work to solve a massive global issue without support from Washington DC.

Actor and activist Harrison Ford gave an impassioned speech at GCAS in which he warned people about supporting politicians who deny climate change science for their own political gain.

“For God’s sake, stop electing leaders who don't believe in science,” Ford said. “Or even worse, pretend they don’t believe in science. Never forget who you’re fighting for.”

Ford also painted a dramatic picture of the consequences we face by choosing not to act.

“We are all, rich or poor, powerful or powerless, we will all suffer the effects of climate and ecosystem destruction,” Ford said. “And we are facing what is quickly becoming the greatest moral crisis of our time. Those least responsible will bear the greatest costs.”

Heroes

Comedy legend Carol Burnett once said, "Giving birth is like taking your lower lip and forcing it over your head." She wasn't joking.

Going through childbirth is widely acknowledged as one of the most grueling things a human can endure. Having birthed three babies myself, I can attest that Burnett's description is fairly accurate—if that seemingly impossible lip-stretching feat lasted for hours and involved a much more sensitive part of your body.

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Christopher Walken is one of the greatest actors of his generation. He's been nominated for an Academy Award twice for best supporting actor, winning once for 1978's "The Deer Hunter" and receiving a nomination for 2002's "Catch Me if You Can."

He's played memorable roles in "Annie Hall," "Pulp Fiction," "Wedding Crashers," "Batman Returns," and countless other films. He's also starred in Shakespeare on the stage and began his career as a dancer.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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