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After Paris, C40 Cities tackle Climate Change

In the backdrop of the historic COP21 Climate Summit in Paris just over a week ago, was another highly important gathering of cities from all over the world meeting to reiterate their commitment and publicize their progress on dealing with and curbing climate change.  C40 cities, a leadership group that represents 82 of the world’s largest cities, came together with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at Paris City Hall to reinvigorate global city communities and recognize those cities that have made significant progress their climate change programs.

C40 member cities started working on “climate actions” in 2009 at the U.N. climate meeting in Copenhagen. The actions target a reduction in CO2 emissions by 3 gigatons of CO2 by 2030, which is about Indian’s yearly carbon output.  At COP21 in Paris, C40 named 10 cities for their leadership role in countering climate change.

Winning cities included Boston, Johannesburg, Rotterdam and Nanjing for their “exceptional innovation and ambition to build low carbon and climate resilient urban communities.” Also recognized was Vancouver who won for their Greenest City Action Plan, a plan whose targeted goal is to become the greenest city in the world by 2020. Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in the People’s Republic of China, was recognized for how they managed solid waste through their ecological restoration of one of the city’s largest landfill sites. Other cities receiving accolades were New York City for building energy efficiency, Washington, DC for Green Energy, Cape Town for Adaptation Implementation, Stockholm for sustainable communities.

But a new C40 report says there are still many challenges ahead. Cities have initiated few programs in the building sector, important because buildings account for an estimated 45 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Also private transportation and outdoor lighting are not being addressed. The report, “Potential for Climate Action” was a joint effort by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and Arup, a British multinational global consultancy firm headquartered in London. The report focuses on current trends that will impact the future: if we continue the same patterns of consumption and infrastructure development, we can expect future greenhouse gas emissions will exceed the global safe carbon limit within five years.

According to the report, cities have failed to implement many of the 27,000 actions laid out by C40. Of those, however, about 2,300 are considered priority actions that are driven by economic and financial status, political and leadership collaborations, and the cooperative abilities of institutions with regulatory and government agencies.

According to the report, cities have failed to implement the 27,000 actions laid out by C40. However, of the 2,300 considered priorities, many have been initiated. Those actions largely involve economic and financial status, political and leadership collaborations, and the cooperative abilities of institutions with regulatory and government agencies.  Crucial to the success of the C40 Cities is the financing.  C40 also announced in Paris that their Finance Facility has funding including €3.5 million, ($ 4,97175) from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and $2 million from the IADB, Inter- American Development Bank.   The initial US $5.7 million contribution is expected to ultimately reach as much as US$20 million in technical assistance for cities, unlocking up to US $1 billion worth of green projects worldwide within four years.  The facility’s goal is to finance up to $1 billion worth of sustainable infrastructure in cities across low and middle-income countries by 2020.

C40 was largely supported in 2014 by the establishment of the Compact of Mayors, the largest coalition of almost 400 mayors and city leaders addressing climate change. It was launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who named former Mayor Bloomberg as his special envoy for cities and climate  change. The Compact of Mayors have pledged to reduce its collective greenhouse gas emissions, track their progress and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

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