This year the annual UN Climate Change Conference was held in the former West German political capital – Bonn. This is one of the largest conventions under the auspices of the UN, which gathers the representatives of all UN member states at the highest level, the representatives of the NGO sector and the activists. The main topics of this year UN Conference in Bonn (COP23) were the levels of the implementation of the previous major agreements on climate change in Rio, in Kyoto and in Paris, as well as the latest challenges that include extreme weather conditions such as wildfires, floods, storms and tropical heat waves.
What is significant for the city of Niš is that for the first time, since the UN Conference on Climate Change has been held, equal participation has been taken by the representatives of the regions and the leaders of the local self-governments worldwide, within the special Climate Summit of the local and regional leaders, as the official part of COP23. The Chairman of the Niš City Assembly, M.S. Rade Rajkovic, at the invitation of the Mayor of Bonn, and since being a representative of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions, took part in the Conference and the Summit held from November 11th to 13th, 2017, whereas he was the sole representative from Serbia and the region.
Activities at the Summit were made up of the official and informal parts, whereas the key topic of the discussion was the way to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is largely released by the combustion of coal and oil. Research suggests that the increase in the average air temperature of over 2 degrees Celsius over the coming years would lead to catastrophic consequences and negative climate change.
At the Summit, attended by over 1000 delegates and over 330 political leaders from over 80 countries worldwide, the Chairman of the Niš City Assembly, during his address, as well as in the conversations with the mayors from several dozen cities worldwide, stated that the City of Niš was ready to deal with climate change and that all necessary steps would be undertaken in order to increase energy efficiency and ensure the sustainability of the energy system in the city. This is only possible through energy efficiency projects, which would contribute to the significant reduction in exhaust emissions, with the aim to make the city of Niš a pioneer in the field of climate and the environmental protection in the region.
At the Summit, the Chairman Rajkovic stated that the city of Niš had the opportunity to improve energy efficiency and increase the use of renewable energy sources, which included energy savings, the introduction of cleaner and renewable energy sources, recycling and treatment of water pollution, electrification of public transport, economical public lighting and other preventive and practical models for eco-friendly environment. In addition, everything mentioned, could be achieved through the international forums, exchange of experience and project financing, stated the chairman in his address.
Moreover, the Chairman Rajkovic discussed those and similar problems related to one of the biggest threats to humanity – climate change during the bilateral meetings with his colleagues on the sidelines of the Summit. The Chairman of the Niš City Assembly also talked about the willingness of the City of Niš to deal with climate change and concrete co-operation with other cities and countries with the California Governor, Mr. Jerry Brown, with the Mayor of Hiroshima, Mr. Macui Kazumi, with the Mayor of Bonn, Mr. Ashok Sirdharan, with the Special Envoy of the Kingdom of Morocco in UN, Mr. Hakim El-Haite, as well as with many other political leaders and experts in this field from Africa, the USA, Asia and Europe.
Special guest speakers at the Summit were Bertrand Picard, the world leader in the Solar Impulse Project, as well as the former California Governor, and present chairman of the R20- Regions of Climate Change Action, Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger.