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Mayors think green at N.Y. summit

Leaders of the world's biggest cities, which produce the most greenhouse gases, explore how to cut emissions.

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The mayor of Austin, Texas, wants to find out how other cities are reducing traffic congestion. Seattle's mayor would like to know how metropolises outside the United States are tackling the issue of climate change. And the mayor of Salt Lake City is keenly interested in emerging technology to reduce greenhouse gases.

Starting Monday, they will get some of their questions answered when 29 other big-city mayors from around the globe arrive in New York to discuss what urban areas can do about climate change.

Many of the mayors will participate in panels to discuss their home-grown solutions. Some of them will visit model projects, such as "green" skyscrapers and solar-powered boats. They will also rub elbows with former President Clinton and high-powered business executives whose companies have made a commitment to reduce their carbon emissions. Most important, the mayors will talk about ways to set an example for other urban areas – since cities consume 75 percent of the world's energy.

"These cities represent, through their municipal operations as well as the scope of their communities and their population, the ability to swiftly and directly achieve reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions," says Michelle Wyman, executive director of ICLEI-USA, a sustainable-development clearinghouse. "The main thing coming out of these meetings will be a series of announcements that demonstrates the leveraging of joint action … particularly in the marketplace, in alternative technology for more carbon-sensitive alternative fuels."

Called the "C40" summit for the 40 largest cities, this is the second meeting of large cities to discuss climate change. Two years ago, 20 cities met in London. That's when the mayors realized that by joining together, they could have an impact, Ms. Wyman says.

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