Mayor Jim Kenney headed to Copenhagen to share stage with AOC, Mike Bloomberg and other top climate leaders

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney at City Council. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney at City Council. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Mayor Jim Kenney says he hopes he remembers how to ride a bicycle.

He’ll need the skills in Copenhagen, where he will be next week for an international summit of mayors focused on climate change and a conference on urban sustainability solutions. 

“I used to bike, they say you never forget once you do it, but I haven’t been on one in a while,” Kenney said. 

The mayor will fly to the capital of Denmark on Oct. 6 with a delegation of six city staffers. Their goal: to learn climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, form coalitions and find business opportunities that help the city to meet its climate goals. 

At the C40 World Mayors Summit, Kenney will share the podium with national leaders such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Al Gore and mayors from more than 90 cities around the world. 

“As the Trump administration continues to dismantle environmental protections and the EPA, it’s incumbent upon cities where boots are on the ground, to fight, to push back on that by doing things ourselves,” Kenney said Thursday. 

Christine Knapp, director of the city’s Office of Sustainability, is one of the officials traveling with the mayor. She said one of her main goals is to learn about Copenhagen’s climate adaptation interventions and its biofuel investments. 

Knapp went to last year’s version of the C40 summit but said attending with the mayor and a delegation is different. 

“We’re meeting with several other mayors, we’re meeting with other high-level officials, I don’t get to do that when I go by myself,” Knapp said.

Also on the trip will be Lauren Swartz, who works for the city’s commerce department, focusing on global strategy. Knapp said that traveling with a colleague on the business side of things will bring benefits.

“I think it’s interesting how we can connect our needs and our interests, with some of the business development work that the city is interested in,” Knapp said. “Knowing that it’s not just some technology company but companies that have environmental solutions.”

Philadelphia was picked as one of three cities, along with Portland and Amsterdam, to participate in a pilot of C40 Thriving Cities Initiatives. 

The program is working on waste and consumption reduction. Kenney will participate in a panel discussing “a future without waste,” talking about Philadelphia’s own zero-waste initiatives. 

“Waste is an issue everywhere and everyone is complaining about litter in their cities. It happens because of how the system is designed,” said Nic Esposito, director of the city’s Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet, who is also joining the trip. 

“What I love about Philadelphia, why I love working here, is that these issues are on the forefront, are on the table, and we’re facing them rather than just…sweeping them under the rug,” Esposito added, “which I don’t think is a viable sustainable strategy. We need to really reduce waste.” 

Along with Knapp, Esposito and Swartz, Kenney will travel with Christopher Puchalsky, director of policy and strategic initiatives at the city’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability; Julia Rockwell, manager of the climate change adaptation program at the Philadelphia Water Department, and Kelly Cofrancisco, from the Mayor’s Office of Communications. 

According to the city, the trip’s budget is $15,000, with most of the travel expenses covered by the C40 Summit, which is sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Coming back from the trip, the city will launch the Climate Collaborative of Greater Philadelphia, with a focus on connecting local organizations with sustainable goals.

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