Why do cities and metropolises hold the keys to fighting against climate change?

Written by Johanna Rolland, Mayor of the City of Nantes (France) and President of Nantes Metropole

At Paris COP21, 195 countries signed an international agreement in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C and reduce the negative impacts of climate change. This means that the greenhouse gas emissions have to be reduced on a global scale. For France specifically, greenhouse gas emissions must be cut by three-quarters by 2050.

Cities are the focus of a significant proportion of such difficulties: it is currently estimated that large cities account for 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions. However, through knowledge and experience in terms of energy, transportation and travel, housing and housing waste management, and urban planning; they do have the answer to limiting the increase in concentration of greenhouse gases.

Cities and metropolises drive innovation and provide effective solutions, They have the operational skills needed for such issues, and are far more flexible and agile than states or even regions. In a constantly changing world, they find solutions and bolster change.

This is indeed the post COP21 issue: mobilizing each and every stakeholder, listening to their pragmatic initiatives in order to bring them together and let them disseminate their collective knowledge and experience. In this way, we can together build a realistic scenario that will stabilize global warming, strengthen the resilience of our territories and utilize this fight as an opportunity to design a more sustainable and inclusive future.

Meet the challenges and build the city of tomorrow: the priority issue of mayors. The example of Nantes, France.

Nantes was awarded the European Green Capital of 2013. It chairs the Euro cities network, which currently includes 130 major European cities, and acts as a spokesperson for the United Local Cities and Governments (CGLU) regarding climate issues. Nantes is strongly committed and well-known for its climate actions. We are already doing a lot for our quality of life; But I want to go even further so that Nantes will the reference city in terms of ecological and energy transition in France.

However, the success of such a transition depends strongly on its ability to promote social progress. If our sustainable cities are but for some happy few, this will further aggravate already intolerable inequalities. I have said that, in Nantes, 50% of social housing will be heated by renewable energies by 2020. We are developing a more energy-efficient transportation network, installing NGV (natural gas for vehicles) onto our buses (300 by year end) and busways, soon to be powered by electricity, while setting up social tariffs and implementing ticket control machines within the city. Ambitious, pro-climate initiatives such as these are what lead to social progress.

As part of maintaining our commitments, we will soon launch a broad new citizens’ debate on energy transition. The debate will start this very month and end in spring 2017. We aim to reach an agreement between the different stakeholders of our territory: civil society, municipalities, the metropolis, and of course the citizens… and to be able decide together what projects we want to initiate so as to accelerate a more virtuous transformation of our city than ever.

Climate Chance: speeding up the transformation of our cities towards more environmentally friendly models

Thanks to all the debates and discussions which will take place during the Climate Chance conference, that will be held in Nantes from September 26 to 28, 2016, we will take stock of the on-going actions throughout the world, deepen our understanding of best practices and successes, as well as difficulties; and foster the pooling of experience and innovation in order to identify the opportunities arising from such a committed fight.

COP21 provided us with a shared direction. But, even if the negotiations between states do set a global framework, we must now identify the decisive actions and tools to make it happen. We made significant progress in acknowledging the key role held by civil society, but we have to go even further. Civil society must find its own way to federate, coordinate, and acquire shared tools in order to become stronger, to influence international talks, and to help speed up the transition to action.

Thanks to Climate Chance, civil society has the opportunity to be heard, display its ambitions for COP 22 in Morocco and further COPs and influence states so that they go ahead further and faster. It is the most important event of the year for civil society and non-state actors.

About Climate Chance

Climate Chance is the international event where non-governmental actors, involved in the fight against climate change, get together. The first edition will be held in Nantes, France from September 26 to 28, 2016, at Centre des Congrès de Nantes.

More information on climatechance2016.com, contact@climatechance2016.com and on Twitter @ClimateChance via the hashtag #ClimateChance.

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