California Governor Jerry Brown speaks at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco / Credit: @gcas2018/twitter
Mayors from more than three dozen cities gathered at a global climate summit in San Francisco last week to send a message to their heads of state: National governments are not leading in the fight against climate change so they’re stepping up to the plate.
The mayors drove home that message through the announcement that 27 cities, accounting for 54 million people and economic value of $6 trillion US dollars, have already seen their carbon emissions peak and start falling, even as their populations and economies continue growing.
The announcement was one among many made at the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS), an event that brought together city and state leaders, businesses and civil society organizations committed to taking stronger action to address climate change.
Achieving peak emissions is an important step toward the implementation of the Paris Agreement, according to “Climate Opportunity,” a report from several climate-focused groups released ahead of the GCAS that showed action to curb carbon emissions can be taken without harming economic growth.
Carbon emissions are a major contributor to a changing climate. Under the Paris Agreement, nations voluntarily committed to reducing their emissions starting 2020 in an effort to limit global warming.
“Climate Opportunity shows what the mayors of the world’s great cities have known for a long time: climate, public health, and a strong economy are deeply connected,” said Mark Watts, the executive director of C40 Cities, a network of megapolises committed to combating climate change and one of the organizations that helped produce the report.
“We need cities around the world to implement the bold climate policies detailed in this report, if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change,” Watts added.
According to the C40 report, the 27 cities achieved their emissions reductions by limiting the amount of carbon produce through the electricity grid; optimizing energy use in buildings; providing cleaner, affordable alternatives to private cars; reducing waste; and increasing recycling rates.
Mayor of Dhaka's South City Corporation, Md Sayeed Khokon, who spoke at the GCAS, outlined some of the measures his city has taken.
“We have constructed several six-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.”
Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris and C40 chair, read out the names of the 27 cities at the opening of the event: Barcelona, Basel, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, Copenhagen, Heidelberg, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Melbourne, Milan, Montréal, New Orleans, New York City, Oslo, Paris, Philadelphia, Portland, Rome, San Francisco, Stockholm, Sydney, Toronto, Vancouver, Warsaw and Washington DC.
While mayors from around the world and South Asia made several announcements to take the fight against climate change to the next level, the event did not see the participation of a Nepali mayor.
This story was supported by the 2018 Climate Change Media Partnership, a collaboration between Internews’ Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Foundation.