Bridgeport, Connecticut Mayor Bill Finch, who also serves as co-chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Task Force, addressed thousands of elected officials and business leaders from across the country on the city’s efforts to tackle climate change during the 82nd Annual U.S. Conference of Mayors, June 20-23, 2014, in Dallas.
Finch began his speech by noting that his fellow mayors across the country – regardless of their party affiliations – are leading the charge on climate change.
“There are thousands of stories out there on what mayors from cities across the country are doing on climate change,” said Finch. “And there are stories of mayors and their efforts on sustainability. Mayors from big cities and from small cities, mayors from the East, from the West, the North and the South, mayors who are Democrats, Republicans, independents and non-partisan. But you can call this movement whatever you want, but I call it getting off of foreign oil, creating jobs that can’t be sent overseas, protecting our environment and eliminating waste.”
He also said Bridgeport is investing in the future through green job, business and energy growth. Bridgeport’s sustainability plan is called BGreen2020. Finch referred to it as a cooperative effort between the regional chamber of commerce and the city.
“It’s resulted in building the largest fuel cell in North America, which is the second biggest in the world. It’s also resulted in the creation of an Eco-Technology Park that houses many new businesses, hundreds of jobs and a payroll addition to our economy of more than $10 million,” said Finch. “It’s resulted in the approval of a $20 million anaerobic sludge digester that’s going to make our sewage system more efficient, more energy independent and [is] going to clean our air.”
In addition to the digester, Bridgeport also has installed what Finch says is one of the largest solar arrays in New England, a 9,000 panel solar field at an old landfill. When combined with a second fuel cell, he says the projects will be able to power nearly 20,000 homes. “The bottom line is that we’re in the midst of creating a clean energy future,” he said.
Mayor Finch ended his speech by applauding mayors for their work on mitigation efforts against climate change, and by calling on mayors to sign onto a new climate agreement that further focuses on resiliency.
“We must build on our successes and move forward to the next decade and beyond. In the words of President John F. Kennedy: ‘Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future.’ Thank you mayors for staying true to that most common, basic bond.”
A video of Finch’s speech is available at http://bit.ly/1lhHnn8 titled, “Plenary Session" – Sunday, June 22.