OPINION

A clean, prosperous future is achieveable if we work together

Our Future | A clean, prosperous future is achieveable if we work together

Australia and the US share democratic values, legacies of agriculture and mining, and cultural affinities.

We've also come to share significant challenges - catastrophic wildfires, deadly heatwaves and withering drought, all intensified by climate change.

Last summer in Arizona, where I am mayor of the city of Phoenix, 2520 wildfires burnt nearly 1 million acres, making it one of the worst fire seasons in a decade.

In 2020, high temperatures broke numerous records and resulted in serious health and economic challenges.

Out of the 366 days in 2020, Phoenix experienced temperatures of more than 37°C for more than half of them.

Some days hit 47.7°C. I know Australian towns and cities are experiencing similar impacts.

Given the threat posed by climate change, we must do everything we can to curb emissions and keep our communities safe.

Local governments are on the frontline of these impacts and, like many Australian local councils, in Phoenix we are leading the charge on solutions.

We aim to become the most sustainable desert city on the planet - a vision supported by our residents. Already, we have a strong focus on climate change.

We're working to establish an Office of Heat Response and Mitigation to support immediate action and drive mid-to-long-term strategies like heat-reducing materials and green infrastructure.

Our Cool Pavement Pilot Program, already the largest in the country at more than 70km, implements a sealant over pavement to reduce surface temperatures by up to 5.5-8.3°C.

We have a program that will plant 1800 trees annually in our most heat vulnerable neighborhoods, identified with a data mapping tool.

We're providing public cooling centers in locations such as libraries for vulnerable residents to get immediate respite from the heat.

At last week's Cities Power Partnership National Summit, I was encouraged to learn from Australian councils like Blacktown and Bega Valley that are leading on some remarkable solutions.

By accelerating sustainable public transportation, investing in solar and clean technology, and working with the business community to develop the circular economy, we can create jobs, boost investment and drive economic growth at a local level.

Phoenix welcomes collaboration with Australian cities and companies.

Even if we cannot be all together in person at COP26 this fall, I look forward to celebrating the great work of Australian cities.

Together we can forge a clean, prosperous future.

Kate Gallego is themayor of Phoenix. She spoke at the Cities Power Partnership National Summit to 250-plus representatives from councils around Australia.

This story Our Future | A clean, prosperous future is achieveable if we work together first appeared on The Canberra Times.