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Mayors think green at N.Y. summit

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The effort got an even larger boost last summer when Mr. Clinton kicked off his Climate Initiative, an effort to encourage reductions in carbon emissions. This led to more cities wanting to become involved, says Wyman, who adds that at the moment the number of cities is capped at 40 to keep the event manageable.

Last month, in advance of the summit, New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced "PlaNYC" – some 127 initiatives to reduce carbon emissions. New York will have a significant presence at this event, with the involvement of locally based CEOs of companies such as financial powerhouse Citigroup, energy provider KeySpan, and media giant Time Warner.

The city asked the Partnership for New York City, a nonprofit with 200 CEOs as members, to raise money and organize the event. The partnership invited some smaller, innovative cities – including Seattle; Austin; Rotterdam, Netherlands; and Salt Lake City – to show the larger cities some of their programs.

Indeed, some of the larger cities, particularly from emerging economies, are coming to learn, says Kathryn Wylde, CEO of the partnership. "It's pretty hopeless for Stockholm and Austin to do anything to fight global warming if Mumbai and Shanghai are not," she says.

The sessions are intended to illustrate how making changes can also result in business opportunities, cost savings, and job creation. The participants will listen to Ken Livingstone, mayor of London, describe the city's use of "congestion pricing" to reduce traffic in London's central business district. Other topics include green buildings, water management, renewable-energy strategies, and waste management.

Most of the cities that were invited have populations of at least 5 million. But smaller cities will be sharing their expertise – such as Seattle, pop. 580,000. It has the largest number of LEED-certified green buildings in the nation, says Mayor Greg Nickels. (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.) "We have led by example, and the private sector wants to emulate it," he says.

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