Home » Breaking News, Customs & Trade » City, regional gov’ts sign pledge for faster climate action

The Bonn-Fiji Commitment was signed November 12 by local and regional leaders from around the world at their UN Climate Change Conference summit to take further, faster action to deliver the Paris Agreement at all levels of government.

With more than half the global population living in cities and expected to approach two-thirds by 2050, the Bonn-Fiji Commitment of Local and Regional Leaders to deliver the Paris Agreement pushes forward efforts to advance sustainable urban development as an integral part of urgent global climate action and the inter-linked goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This is particularly focused around Sustainable Development Goal 11—to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

“City and regional governments are pushing ahead, with an acute sense of their role in building a resilient, low carbon society,” said Ashok Sridharan, lord mayor of Bonn, Germany and first vice president of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI)-Local Governments for Sustainability. “Urban areas will play an influential role in the course of global development. By making urban sustainability a core part of national climate action, countries will be in a better position to meet and exceed their national climate goals.”

The commitment encompasses 19 initiatives, including The European Covenant of Mayors and Compact of Mayors joining forces to create the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy—the largest coalition of over 7,400 cities from six continents and 121 countries to reduce emissions and make societies and economies resilient to climate change.

Cities are responsible for as much as 70% of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels used for energy and transport, and 13% of the global urban population lives in vulnerable low-elevation coastal areas.

As of today, more than 1,000 local and regional governments from 86 countries, representing over 800 million people, have reported emissions reduction targets on the carbonn Climate Registry, which, once achieved, would result in a reduction of 5.6 gigatons of CO2 equivalent (GtCO2e) by 2020 and 26.8 GtCO2e by 2050.

Additionally, the combined impact of cities and local governments under the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, an initiative served by the registry and two other reporting platforms, could collectively achieve a cumulative total reduction of 15.64 GtCO2e between 2010 and 2030.

Nevertheless, there are still gaps in the regulatory and financial mechanisms needed to scale up sustainable urban development.

City governments often have limited control over sectors such as energy, transport and finance, which directly and indirectly affect urban development, while only about a quarter of countries have national urban policies.

Additionally, city access to finance has thus far been limited, despite the high demand for low-carbon, resilient infrastructure.

The Urban Climate Change research network says an estimated 80% of the costs of adapting to climate change are needed in urban areas. But much of the estimated US$80 billion to $100 billion financing needed per year remains inaccessible to city governments, and there is also a lack of bankable local projects reaching investors.

“To quickly accelerate sustainable, resilient urban development, we need a new framework of cooperation among national, regional and local governments,” said Dr. Joan Clos, executive director of UN-Habitat. “Cities can play a greater role in renewable energy generation sector, not only as advocates and mobilizers but as energy generators, now that the capital investment and prize for renewable energy is affordable for cities in comparison with the past. Cities can become carbon neutral in municipal energy requirements, like public lighting, public transport, sewage and waste management.”

Photo: ahenobarbus

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