On the Heels of a Ratified Paris Agreement, Cities Demonstrate their Collective Impact at the COP22
Cities Took the Global Stage to Champion Ambitious Action on Climate Change
On the heels of the Paris Agreement fully entering into force, cities gathered at the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to once again activate climate talks and participate alongside world leaders at the COP of Action. While international leaders arrived in Marrakech with a renewed momentum, for cities, this momentum ignited a year before in Paris, when local leaders played a key role in galvanizing support to push for the groundbreaking Paris Agreement.
In Marrakech, mayors from around the world gathered at the Climate Summit for Local and Regional Leaders to showcase their leadership in turning global climate goals into concrete action. As the bridge between international decision-makers and the citizens most affected by climate change, cities and regions are building an evergreen coalition from the ground up to move the promises of the Paris climate agreement into action.
Through commitments made through the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy — a city-led and city-first coalition created from the merger of the Compact of Mayors and the EU Covenant of Mayors — cities are shaping the way forward to fighting climate change.
During the Climate Summit for Local & Regional Leaders, the collective impact cities of committed to both the Compact of Mayors and the EU Covenant of Mayors was announced, by Mayor Eduardo Paes of Rio de Janeiro, Mayor Ulrich Sumptoh of Port Vila and Councillor Parks Tau of Johannesburg.
Sharing the impact of cities as they work to reduce emissions and advance climate progress, the findings showcased the power of local leaders to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate. With over 600 commitments made by Compact cities, these localities have the potential to reduce nearly one billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually by 2030, equivalent to 11.6 billion cumulative tons between 2010 and 2030. This represents 26% of what we know is possible globally through direct city action — by only 600 cities.
These impressive emissions reductions were coupled with findings from the EU Covenant of Mayors, which found that cities committed to the Covenant represent approximately 31% of the overall EU28 GHG emission reduction target by 2020. With a reduction of 23% achieved already in 2014, the Covenant is well positioned to support European Countries in reaching this goal. These findings showcase how cities can ambitiously curb the effects of climate change, and make a tangible impact on a global level.
These commitments, and associated impacts, were included as part of the official input for local and regional governments into the Global Action Agenda, carried forward to COP22 through the official Outcome Document for the Cities and Human Settlements thematic area, facilitated by LGMA focal point, ICLEI — Local Governments for Sustainability. The Global Covenant of Mayors was identified as a key initiative for implementing the Paris Agreement because of its innovative governance, integrated approach to mitigation, adaptation and access to sustainable and affordable energy, and its stronger and more global visibility.
The European Commission’s Committee of the Regions also held a side event to showcase the Global Covenant of Mayors. Introducing “regional covenants” planned throughout Morocco, Europe, South Mediterranean and the rest of Africa, climate leaders from cities and the European Commissions made clear that pioneering cities will lead the rest of their world towards a sustainable future. And with more regional collaboration, more cities can contribute to the pathway forward.
COP22 also presented an opportunity to introduce the Global Covenant of Mayors to climate leaders, including national government representatives and other mayors during a panel featuring Mayor Mohamed Sefiani of Chefchaouen; Mayor Célestine Ketcha Courtès of Bangangté; Minister Shane Rattenbury of Australian Capital Territory and the city of Canberra; President Francesco Pigliaru of Sardinia region; and Mayor Don Iveson of Edmonton. These local leaders were joined by the European Commission’s Director General for Climate Action, Jos Delbeke, Gabriela Senior State Advisor on Climate Change at Ministry of the Environment of the Slovak Republic; Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) Secretary General Frédéric Vallier; and Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Amanda Eichel. From the unique and specific challenges each of these leaders shared to the opportunities that they look forward to under a single coalition, mayors were ready and willing to outline how they are moving forward with aggressive action to combat climate change, and most likely, at a swifter pace than their national governments.
By 2030, cities will be responsible for 74% of global greenhouse gas emissions and 60 percent of the world’s population. For local leaders, there simply is not a choice, they must act now to build low-carbon and resilient communities that will last well into the future. The implementation of the Paris Agreement will be the pivotal challenge to our time, but the importance of local action is being recognized now more than ever.
As the drivers of change, local leaders are making bolder commitments to climate, collaborating with each other to enhance their impact, and pushing others to do the same, but they cannot bear this burden alone. Cities need the support of global and national leaders to take equal action and ambition at every level, and empower them to realize their sustainable urban development and climate goals.
At COP22, cities once again shared their vision for a zero carbon future and once again, they were heard.
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