Climate change is the most urgent challenge we face in an interdependent world where independent nations have grown increasingly unable to cooperate effectively on sustainability. In Cool Cities, renowned political theorist Benjamin R. Barber describes how cities, by assuming important aspects of sovereignty, can take the lead from faltering nation states in fighting climate change. Barber argues that with more than half the world's population now in urban areas, where 80 percent of both GDP and greenhouse gas emissions are generated, cities are the key to the future of democracy and sustainability.
In this compelling sequel to If Mayors Ruled the World, Barber assesses both broad principles of urban rights and specific strategies of sustainability such as fracking bans, walkable cities, above-ground mining of precious resources, energy and heating drawn from garbage incineration, downtown wind turbines, and skyscrapers built from wood. He shows how cities working together on climate change, despite their differences in wealth, development, and culture, can find common measures by which to evaluate the radically different policies they pursue. This is a book for a world in which bold cities are collaborating to combat climate change and inspire hope for democracy even as reactionary populists take over national governments in the United States and Europe. It calls for a new social contract among citizens and municipalities to secure not only their sustainability but their survival.
"Cool Cities is a worthy sequel to If Mayors Ruled the World. Ben Barber shows how cities can and must lead on the climate crisis in the face of national drift and denial. The world is being remade from the bottom up."
– Bruce Katz, Centennial Scholar, Brookings Institution
"Nation states have failed us; cities and mayors are the way forward. In this timely and important book, Benjamin Barber charts the way to the devolution and local empowerment that will save our planet and ensure further human progress."
– Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class
"Benjamin Barber's book is an important and timely testimonial of the power of our cities, their governments, and their mayors to undertake the vital work of dramatically lowering our greenhouse gas emissions."
– David Miller, former Mayor of Toronto, 2003-2010, and C40 Cities Chair, 2008-2010
"Ben Barber is the theoretician of a quiet revolution in global governance that is now breaking out of city halls and into the mainstream. Mayors and activists alike will be reading his new book to find out what is next."
– Mark Watts, Executive Director, C40
"In this cautionary and prescriptive volume, CUNY senior research scholar Barber (If Mayors Ruled the World) lays out a strong argument for civic engagement and personal responsibility in the ongoing fight against climate change [...] Offering pragmatic ideas to solve complicated issues, Barber challenges readers to exert influence on their localities and gives them reasons to be hopeful."
– Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
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Benjamin R. Barber is the Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Fordham University Urban Consortium, the Founder of the Global Parliament of Mayors and author of Jihad vs McWorld. He resides in New York City.