by Brianna Crandall — November 25, 2016 — During the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Marrakech, local leaders from 7,100 cities announced the collective impact of their actions to accelerate world progress on meeting the commitments of the Paris Agreement and stressed the importance of expanding access to city-climate finance. By taking bold action and tracking their progress transparently, the cities of the soon-to-be Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy — a coalition created by the Compact of Mayors and EU Covenant of Mayors — are demonstrating what can be accomplished when cities are empowered and supported to reduce emissions, build resilience and work collaboratively, according to the C40 network of megacities.
Cities already account for more than 70% of global energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and with urbanization on the rise, it is projected that nearly 66% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, making cities the epicenter of climate solutions. Through their commitments to the EU Covenant of Mayors and the Compact of Mayors, local leaders are working to build low-carbon resilient cities of the future. They take robust action on climate mitigation and adaptation through sectors such as buildings, transportation, waste and energy — improving the quality life for their communities while working to achieve a carbon neutral world.
Overall, the potential of the 596 commitments made by Compact cities are equivalent to reductions of nearly one billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually by 2030 or 11.6 billion cumulative tons between 2010 and 2030. This represents 26% of what we know is possible globally through direct city action through action by these 600 cities alone.
Based on the over 6000 formal commitments the cities of the EU’s Covenant of Mayors are projected to have an overall estimated reduction of 240 Mt CO2e, i.e. 27% by 2020. These emissions reductions from Covenant cities may represent approximately 31% of the overall EU28 GHG emission reduction target by 2020 compared to 2005. With a reduction of 23% achieved already in 2014, the Covenant cities are well on pace to reach this goal.
The aggregate numbers released by the EU Covenant of Mayors and Compact of Mayors demonstrate the power of cities to contribute to national climate targets–but cities can do even more when they are supported. The reports further demonstrate the importance of improving city-level climate financial access to unlock the potential for city action in areas such as sustainable infrastructure.
The merger between the Compact of Mayors and the EU Covenant of Mayors in January 2017 will reportedly form the largest and first-of-its-kind coalition of cities committed to fighting climate change, and will also transform what is possible from the ground up. The Global Covenant of Mayors will increase the tools and opportunities for cities to reduce emissions while increasing climate resiliency and access to clean energy. This coalition aims to advance investments in local sustainability efforts in all sectors, and scale up local action to meet the global challenge of climate change.
Cities that set carbon reduction targets and implement changes are the necessary forces propelling the world towards reaching the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement. Through the Global Covenant of Mayors, cities will share a common vision under a single global framework. They will commit to set, measure and be accountable for achieving their climate goals, ultimately leading to coherent, quantifiable results of their impact on reducing global greenhouse emissions. By informing cities of the next steps beyond ratification, the world can achieve carbon neutrality in this century, says C40.