To realize the highest goal of the Paris Agreement- keeping global temperature increase to 1.5°C- cities in Europe, North America, and Australia must curb their emissions by no later than 2020
During the recently concluded Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) held in San Francisco, Michael R Bloomberg, United Nations special envoy for Climate Action, joined Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and the mayors of a few cities, including Mayor of Dhaka, Md Sayeed Khokon, to announce cities in the C40 network where greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have peaked.
“This is the first time I am attending such a summit," Mayor Khokon said at the event held on September 13. "I am really inspired by the efforts of city mayors under the leadership of Mayor Bloomberg.”
C40 Cities connects more than 90 of the world’s greatest cities, representing more than 650 million people and one quarter of the global economy. C40 is focused on tackling climate change and driving urban action that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks, while increasing the health, wellbeing, and economic opportunities of urban citizens.
The current chair of C40 is Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, while three-term Mayor of New York City, Michael R Bloomberg, serves as President of the Board.
Mayor Khokon further said: “Within an area of just 42 square kilometers, we have 12.5 million inhabitants in Dhaka. Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of natural disasters– floods, storms, cyclones– which in turn is forcing people to migrate from rural areas to Dhaka city.
“They then have no jobs and it becomes a big challenge for us to take care of these people who are homeless, unemployed, and living a very hard life,” said the mayor.
To realize the highest goal of the Paris Agreement- keeping global temperature increase to 1.5°C- cities in Europe, North America, and Australia must curb their emissions by no later than 2020, with all cities globally reaching the same milestone by around 2030.
C40’s analysis reveals that, 27 cities across the world have already peaked their emissions before 2012, the latest year from which peaking can be identified.
Many more cities worldwide are also on track to curb their emissions by 2020. One third of the C40 Cities network have seen their greenhouse gas emissions fall over a five-year period, achieving at least a 10% reduction on their peak emissions. These cities represent 54 million urban citizens and $6 trillion in GDP.
Those attending the summit included Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, Zandile Gumede, mayor of Durban, Federico Gutiérrez, mayor of Medellín, Frank Jensen, mayor of Copenhagen, and mayor of Milan, Giuseppe Sala.
Research conducted by C40 revealed that the main drivers for cities to achieve reduced peak greenhouse emissions were: de-carbonization of the electricity grid, optimizing energy use in buildings, providing cleaner, affordable alternatives to personal cars, reducing waste, and increasing recycling rates.
The analysis revealed the capacity of cities to bring down their emissions through bold climate action and investment in sustainable infrastructure and policies. It also showed the importance of collaboration with national and regional governments and businesses operating within cities, to deliver the collective action needed to cut emissions.
“It is an incredible achievement for these 27 cities, including Paris, to have peaked their emissions,” said Mayor of Paris and Chair of C40, Anne Hidalgo. “As the greatest custodians of the Paris Agreement, mayors of the world’s great cities have once again shown that cities are getting the job done.
"The commitment of so many of my fellow mayors to deliver on the highest ambition of the Paris Agreement, and the dedication I have witnessed from so many cities, businesses, and citizens here at the Global Climate Action summit, means many more cities will achieve this key milestone before 2020,” said the Paris mayor.
To date, mayors of more than 60 C40 cities have publicly committed to developing and begin implementing ambitious climate action plans by 2020 that go beyond national commitments, to achieve the highest goals of the Paris Agreement at the local level.
These plans will see many more cities achieve reduced peak emissions in the years ahead and become emissions neutral by no later than 2050.
Various mayors spoke on their specific trajectories and work so far in attaining the SDGs.
“Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) is taking a lot of initiatives to meet the challenge posed by climate change,” said Mayor Khokon. “We have constructed several 6 story buildings to rehabilitate climate displaced people. We have also developed 70 landfills and 24 stations to manage waste. We are encouraging rooftop gardening by managing holding tax incentives."
London Breed, mayor of San Francisco, said that as the Federal Administration rolls back critical environmental protections, San Francisco continues to lead in the fight against climate change.
“Our greenhouse gas emissions peaked in 2000. Since then we have successfully reduced emissions by 30% from 1990 levels," Breed said. "We grew our economy by 111% and increased our population by 20%. But to fully realize the ambitions of the Paris Climate Accord, we must continue to make bold commitments and accelerate actions that reduce emissions and move us towards a clean energy future."
Mayor of Milan, Giuseppe Sala, said "Milan is proud to join other C40 cities in announcing the peak of its emissions. This is the result of no revolution, but of a steady evolution in the life of our city. We see a continuous advancement, which spans more than 20 years and progressively led to 1 in every 7 citizens using shared cars or bikes, and to 60% of quality separation in waste collection."
Lord Mayor Clover Moore of Sydney said Greenhouse emissions in Sydney peaked in 2007 and have declined every year since– despite the economy expanding by 37%. This was achieved because they developed a long-term plan with ambitious targets and stuck to that plan for over a decade.
“We have one of the largest rooftop solar programs in Australia, we converted our streetlights to LED, and we are working with industry leaders to reduce their emissions. We lead by example and we partner with businesses and residents to help them on their journey,” he said. “As the first government in Australia to be certified carbon neutral, our achievements show the impact that can be had at a city level despite shocking inaction from State and National Governments.”
The event concluded with a call to action of all mayors to reduce their carbon footprint.
This story was supported by the 2018 Climate Change Media Partnership, a collaboration between Internews’ Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Foundation