Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recently launched the city’s Green New Deal, providing a template for a new era of climate leadership. Like many other C40 climate action plans from the world’s leading cities, it is built on hard data and sets goals to reduce emissions in line with the science-based target of constraining global average temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees above the pre-industrial average. L.A.’s plan is also deeply rooted in climate justice, with a strong focus on how action to reduce pollution can also reduce inequality, create new and better jobs, develop a stronger, more sustainable economy, and improve the health and well-being of Angelenos. In short, it is a strategy to benefit the whole of society and thus moves climate change from a peripheral issue to the central organising principle of government.
Inspired by the Adaptation Conference and hearing about other cities' climate adaptation efforts, Dubai has developed the city’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. Although Dubai is generally adapted to climate extremes, with many measures implemented throughout its history given its location, the strategy is a first step in aligning and enhancing the adaptation measures undertaken.
We know that cities are key to a green and resilient future – however, many cities around the world are currently unable to finance the bold and ambitious climate action that will keep us on the right track. Significantly more investment in cities is needed, but even if existing development finance institutions, funds and investors offered more support, cities - particularly in low- and middle-income countries - would still face an uphill battle to finance the transition to a low-carbon future.
By removing fossil fuel assets from investment portfolios and increasing assets in sustainable companies and projects, the Divest/Invest movement is fighting back against the dangerous business models of fossil fuel companies. Divest/Invest does not only challenge the social license of the energy giants whose business models are not compatible with a 1.5°C future. It has now also become a material risk for them: last year Shell admitted that a continued rise in divestment could have a “material adverse effect on the price of our securities and our ability to access equity capital markets”.
I was in Beijing last week to launch C40’s China Climate Action Plan programme, as well as to celebrate progress on C40’s China Buildings Programme. It was a great opportunity to understand that just as China has in recent years become the electric vehicle, renewable energy, and cycle-hire capital of the world, so its cities may be poised to leapfrog everywhere else in green building standards too.