COP21: The Paris Climate Summit

For the first time, this year's UN climate talks have forged a global agreement to curb dangerous carbon emissions and hold global warming below 1.5C.

As Al Gore said in Paris, paraphrasing economist Kenneth Rogoff, "Things take longer than you think they should, but then they happen faster than you thought they could."

On November 29, I joined many of you out on the streets for the People's Climate March, alongside the more than 45,000 Sydneysiders who marched down Macquarie Street. It was an incredible show of support around the world - it lifted my spirits, and those of many others, as we left Australia bound for Paris - and helped set the scene for the subsequent success of the Paris talks.

On Sunday, I was delighted to get the news that nearly 200 countries had signed the genuinely historic agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

My focus in Paris was reporting our practical experience in Sydney, that you can set and deliver on ambitious targets while overseeing a thriving local economy, and advocating for the benefits of action to national leaders.

"It's hard to overestimate the importance of cities in tackling climate change" - former President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, said at the talks.

I was in Paris for five days and attended nine high profile events and spoke at six of them alongside the Mayors of Paris, London, Rio De Janeiro, New Orleans, Stockholm, Rotterdam, Madrid, Wuhan, Vancouver and many other global cities, Morocco's Minister for Energy, the Governor of California and senior figures from the World Bank, World Economic Fund, the United Nations, 100 Resilient Cities, C40 Cities, the World Green Building Council, and a range of other organisations.

At each event, I reported on the City's climate targets, progress and initiatives - especially our green infrastructure plans. And the response was incredibly positive, with international media particularly interested in our experience.

Analysis of the media coverage found more than 270 items across a range of media outlets, including The Economist, The Australian Financial Review, The Sydney Morning Herald, Bloomberg TV, CNN, SBS World News, Nature, The Huffington Post, Le Monde and Le Figaro, reaching more than one million people.

It was interesting to see the changed context for cities picked up in the media coverage. The Vancouver-based Georgia Straight newspaper wrote, "Now the focus is less on what national governments should strive to achieve and more on what cities and markets are actually doing. These messages were reinforced by a diverse range of people from Sydney mayor Clover Moore to American rap artist Akon, who is working to bring more and better lighting to Africa."

As Herald journalist Peter Hannam reported, I was proud to have a positive story to tell in Paris - that the City's operations are already carbon neutral and deep emissions cuts are underway as we get on with taking action.

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