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C40 Cities launches ambitious climate efforts ahead of COP27

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C40 Cities, a global network of city mayors, has announced a range of ambitious climate commitments including the creation of green jobs, reduction of waste and expansion of climate finance. The network has also called for action from national governments as COP27 approaches. 

  • The C40 World Mayors Summit saw a number of commitments made in relation to green jobs, waste reduction, youth engagement, clean energy, climate migration and climate finance. 
  • Cities currently account for around 70% of global emissions, but could serve as vital hotspots of innovation, transformation and growth. 
  • With COP27 fast approaching, the C40 summit could inspire national governments to make more ambitious commitments to provide the necessary support. 

C40 Cities, a global network of city mayors collaborating for climate action, held its C40 World Mayors Summit in Buenos Aires from 19-21 October 2022. Business leaders, philanthropists, campaigners, youth leaders, scientists and residents came together alongside the mayors of global and regional cities to launch a series of ambitious climate commitments. 

Creating good, green jobs 

C40 member cities have committed to the creation of 50 million green job opportunities by 2030. According to the network’s research, targeted climate action will create over 30% more jobs than a business-as-usual approach, while also delivering around $280 billion in health-related economic benefits. 

“The economic crisis and the climate crisis go together and the solution will not be a fair one if it is not green, nor will it be green if it is not fair”, said Ada Colau, Mayor of Barcelona and C40 Vice Chair for Climate Justice. 

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, added: “There are millions of jobs in the transition. We welcome the commitment and urge mayors to sign and to implement the social dialogue processes that build trust for working people and their families in a just transition. Jobs, living wages and social protection are at the core of livable and thriving cities.”   

Tackling city waste 

Thirteen C40 member cities have signed up to its Pathway Towards Zero Waste initiative. In doing so, they pledged to treat at least 30% of local organic waste, reduce waste disposal emissions by at least 30% and improve local waste collection by 2030.  

Their commitment is expected to reduce methane emissions by up to a million tonnes per year, which equates to 25 million tonnes of CO2e, while also enhancing water and air quality, improving public health and providing economic opportunities.  

Public-private partnerships for clean energy 

The C40 summit saw the announcement of its partnership with Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) to launch the 24/7 Carbon-Free Energy for Cities programme. The programme aims to provide cities with decarbonised energy at every hour of every day. 

It will initially be piloted by London, Copenhagen and Paris, with the intention of developing scalable models for other cities to follow. Each initial pilot will focus on different challenges associated with the decarbonisation of urban electricity consumption, as outlined by a C40 white paper. 

The participating will explore policy and market reforms to ensure that their residents realise the economic, employment and health benefits of the clean energy transition. Google will provide technological support as well as $900,000 in funding, while C40 will support the inaugural cities through its Renewable Energy Accelerator. 

According to C40’s executive director Mark Watts: “C40 cities are showing once again that they are doers, not delayers. By embracing innovation and partnership, they are not only helping to explore the 24/7 carbon-free energy concept but they are accelerating the energy transition, phasing out expensive and volatile fossil fuels that are the root of the energy costs crisis.”   

Engaging youth leaders 

The summit also included the largest C40 Global Youth and Mayors Forum to date, bringing together 60 international youth leaders. Together, they launched the latest rendition the Students Reinventing Cities and announced plans for the formation of a global network of city-youth climate councils. 

“There is no way to think about fairer and more sustainable cities without listening to young people. Especially in cities of the global south, adaptation in cities will be essential to address the climate crisis and guarantee youth a livable future”, said Nicki Becker, a C40 youth delegate from Buenos Aires.   

City mayors commit to advancing climate finance  

In the Global South, the network has been working alongside the German Agency for International Cooperation on 34 projects that are expected to leverage over $1 billion in funding by the time they are completed. It has now confirmed additional funding from the German, French and UK governments, through which it will support a further 15 projects in 13 cities.  

C40 will also partner with the International Finance Corporation to help cities in Latin America to identify, quantify and develop high-priority investments in line with their climate action targets. The collaboration is expected to help create a preliminary pipeline of projects worth over $500 million. 

Similarly, the network will work with the African Development Bank to support African cities in developing climate-smart infrastructure projects. Together, the organisations will establish a Chief Finance Officer (CFO) Network for African Cities to build the capacity of CFOs as climate leaders, support the development of a pipeline of climate-smart projects, and strengthen collaboration with key financial institutions in the region. 

Finally, C40 announced its launch of the Cities Inclusive Climate Action Fund, which will be used to help cities accelerate climate action in a just, fair and inclusive manner. 

Calls to action on climate migration 

Mayors gathered at the summit took the opportunity to call on national governments to accelerate their responses to climate migration by increasing adaptation finance to 50% of their total climate finance commitments. Their call aligns with the recommendations of UN secretary general António Guterres, and follows C40’s 2021 launch of the Mayors Migration Council and Global Mayors Task Force on Climate and Migration (MMC).

Barrister Murtaza Wahab, City Administrator of Karachi, said: “Urban areas have been at the frontline of both climate impacts and of welcoming people displaced by flooding. Urgent international action is needed to increase resilience and preparedness in the face of these events, and cities need to be at the forefront of these conversations.” 

City-level influence ahead of COP27 

The commitments made by C40 Cities could have significant influence on global climate action. Not only are cities estimated to contribute over 70% of the world’s CO2 emissions, but they are also centres of economic growth, innovation and transformation. 

As such, cities hold significant influence over the wider decarbonisation of macro-level systems such as the energy, transport and construction sectors. Local authorities are uniquely positioned to experiment with different policies and create opportunities for successful solutions to be rapidly scaled. They can drive innovation through public-private partnerships, while also providing supportive settings for local businesses. 

With COP27 fast approaching, the C40 summit has come at a crucial time. The mayors’ call to action on climate migration and efforts to mobilise climate finance could inspire greater commitments from global leaders. 

Currently, governments are falling short of their pledges in these areas, with a 2021 report from the Climate Policy initiative concluding that annual climate finance must increase by at least 590% to meet internationally agreed climate targets by 2030. The C40 summit delegates are well aware of this shortfall, and believe that city-level action can inspire progress but only if it is met with national support. 

Sadiq Khan, Chair of C40 Cities and Mayor of London, said: “The difference between cities and national governments has been like the difference between night and day, with the cities as the climate doers, and governments the climate delayers.”   

“Mayors are ready to step up as problem solvers but they cannot do it at scale without adequate funding. As national governments head to COP27 in November, they must fix the broken $100-billion promise of climate finance by investing in urban adaptation, investing in frontline communities, and investing in the Global South”, added MMC executive director Vittoria Zannuso.

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