Sierra Leone News: ‘We are not alone’ in fighting climate change, says Freetown mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr

At the C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen last week, Freetown was one of over 90 cities around the world that signed up to the Global Green New Deal (GGND), which recognizes a climate emergency and commits to inclusive climate action and staying below the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal of the Paris Agreement.  “Our ‘Transform Freetown’ three-year city plan already addresses resilience and the environment. We have started addressing adaptation especially for those most vulnerable and have done a lot of flood mitigation work. To ensure we play our part in not going beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius, we are going to create carbon sinks: we are committed to planting 1 million trees in 2020 and increasing our vegetation cover by 50% by 2022.” She said they’ve also brought in storm water drainage and building regulations that help slow deforestation. Transport is a major source of pollution in Freetown, and said they are working on a feasibility study for a cable car system that would take people off the roads and be moving 6,000 people an hour. The second big source of pollution the Mayor said is informal sanitation. “We are trying to change behaviors and are working on passing a new law that would make it compulsory for everyone collecting waste to be registered so we can hold them to account, and everyone living in the city to be registered with a provider. The Mayor said the deal stated was a response to the failure of inter-government action blocked by a few powerful governments that represented fossil fuel industry interests.

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