The global COVID-19 pandemic quite simply changed everything in 2020. It presented profound challenges for cities, countries, and communities around the world. Challenges that were further compounded by the impacts of the climate crisis - intensifying wildfires, typhoons, drought and other extreme weather events. Throughout all of this, C40 cities responded to the pandemic by prioritising green and just solutions. C40 mayors committed to inclusive climate action in line with the Paris Agreement goals of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C, while building resilience for the collective future of city residents.
Last year defied expectations to become a landmark year for the climate, as a wave of countries announced net-zero targets, the price of renewables continued to drop while fossil fuel majors sustained serious reductions in share price, and the pandemic opened a window for us to rethink the way we live.
It’s safe to say the COVID crisis, in most of the world outside of East Asia and Oceania, and the global economic recovery will continue to radically shape our response to the climate crisis in 2021. Here are my top 10 ten things to look out for this year.
On January 1 2021, C40’s new Leadership Standards came into effect. The commitment of our 97 cities representing 700 million residents to the new standards demonstrates our world-leading mayors’ dedication to tackling the climate crisis.
The most significant test of any government’s commitment to climate action right now is the measures it takes to rebuild its economy after the pandemic. Analysis for C40’s Mayors’ COVID Recovery Taskforce shows this clearly — a big, fast global programme of green stimulus will create 50 million good new jobs in C40 cities alone, while also being the best route to protect health and enable us to get on track to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and make it to zero by 2050. So while we should rightly celebrate the moment when President-Elect Biden takes the USA back into the Paris Agreement, what is really going to matter in his first year in office is whether or not he is able to push through a green and just COVID recovery stimulus.