Mayors of major cities from around the world convened yesterday in Sao Paulo, Brazil, at a summit meeting of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. The meeting began one day after the IEA released their latest figures showing an alarming spike in carbon emissions in 2010, adding a sense of urgency to the proceedings.
As human population becomes increasingly urbanized, cities have become “ground zero” for dealing with climate change.
“The effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change will be won or lost in cities,” New York mayor and C40 chairman Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. “As the primary centers of economic activity globally, cities are significant consumers of energy and emit nearly three quarters of the world’s carbon emissions. They are also innovative and nimble and can often move quickly and boldly in implementing environmentally and financially viable solutions.”
As the work of the summit continues through Thursday, key partnerships have already been announced to assist in facilitating and streamlining how the world’s cities mitigate and adapt to climate change:
- World Bank and C40
The C40 and the World Bank have signed a “groundbreaking” agreement aimed at helping cities face climate-related issues in the coming decades. Essential elements of the agreement include will help large cities expand climate mitigation and adaptation plans, while strengthening local economies and protecting vulnerable populations. The partnership will help cities finance climate action plans and establish stronger partnerships between cities. The plan will also establish a consistent method of measuring and reporting emissions, making possible verifiable and consistent emissions monitoring and reporting between cities.
“This unique partnership with the World Bank will help solve many of the problems that cities face in obtaining financing for climate-related projects, both from the World Bank and other lenders. It will also make it easier for C40 cities to access the resources of the World Bank,” said Bloomberg.
- ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability and C40
The C40 and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability will work together to establish community-scale standards for accounting and reporting greenhouse gas emissions. Once established, the standard will make possible reliable, consistent and comparable emissions reporting. The standard will allow for monitoring progress against targets, help inform effective climate action plans, and form the basis for making day-to-day policy decisions and performing community environmental reviews.
“Cities of all sizes play an important role in combating the impact of climate change. Establishing a single global standard for reporting greenhouse gas emissions will empower local governments to accelerate their actions and access funding for mitigation and adaptation projects,” Bloomberg said. “This will enable new efficiencies and create a level playing field for comparing emissions across cities around the world.”
Climate action, sustainability, and cities
It often seems that effective action on climate change and sustainability is largely stalled at the international and federal level. But it is where people live, in cities, that action can and will drive real change. This point was illustrated recently in an interview with Emma Stewart, currently senior manager of AEC Sustainability for Autdesk, and a thought leader in environment trends.
Stewart argues that the greatest strides in grappling with climate and environmental issues can be, and are, made in cities. Human society is now predominantly urbanized, and creating livable, sustainable cities is the best way to address the global issues of climate change and sustainability.
Stewart’s thoughts dovetail well with the work done this week in Brazil, and are highlighted in the article Earth Day Inflection Points; Looking Toward the Built Environment recently published in TriplePundit.
- Bloomberg in São Paulo: A Glimpse of the Green Mayor (streetsblog.org)
- What’s The Best Way To Tackle Climate Change At The Local Level? (huffingtonpost.com)
- The Cities Most Prepared For Climate Change (fastcompany.com)
Image credit: cabbit, courtesy Flickr