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Mayor Jim Kenney heading to Copenhagen to talk about climate change

Kenney and six city staffers will make the trip for the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.

Mayor Jim Kenney speaks during the grand opening of the Fashion District mall in Center City Philadelphia on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019.
Mayor Jim Kenney speaks during the grand opening of the Fashion District mall in Center City Philadelphia on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019.Read moreTIM TAI / Staff Photographer

Mayor Jim Kenney will spend next week in Copenhagen talking with mayors from around the world about climate change and sustainability.

Kenney said staff convinced him it was important for him to travel to the capital of Denmark to attend the meeting of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a network of the world’s largest metropolises that works together to combat and adapt to the effects of global warming.

“They told me I needed to go," Kenney said. "It wasn’t something that I was necessarily planning on, and staff and others have convinced me that Europeans and other foreign cities, if the mayor doesn’t show up, it’s seemingly not a priority for Philadelphia. So here I go.”

Six city staffers — from the Water and Commerce Departments, the Office of Sustainability, and the Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet — will join Kenney on the trip, which the Mayor’s Office estimated will cost taxpayers $15,000.

C40, which receives funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, and other organizations, will cover travel and hotel expenses.

While in Copenhagen, Kenney also will participate in a conference of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, at which he will give talks about Rebuild, the city’s program to refurbish parks, recreation centers, and libraries with money from the sugary-beverage tax Kenney pushed through Council in 2016.

The delegation also will meet with businesses in Copenhagen that are considering expanding to Philadelphia.

Kenney, who leaves Sunday and returns next Friday, said he was looking forward to seeing Denmark for the first time.

“I would like to see Scandinavia, I think that’s interesting," he said, "and deal with people who think liberally and think long-term, and get out of watching television with the president on every day, melting down. It’s kind of nice to see people actually get stuff done.”

Kenney said it was important for cities to tackle climate change at a time when the federal government is rolling back emissions standards and environmental protections.

“It’s incumbent upon cities, where boots are on the ground, to fight, to push back on that,” he said.