• Mayors from London, Paris, Los Angeles, Copenhagen, Delhi, Jakarta, Mexico City and cities around the world commit to a shared vision of meeting World Health Organization Air Quality Guidelines by 2030
  • 40,000 deaths per year could be averted
  • Global Climate Emergency demands unprecedented action from the world’s big cities

Today, 35 mayors pledged to deliver clean air for the more than 140 million people that live in their cities. By signing the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration, the mayors recognise that breathing clean air is a human right and commit to work together to form an unparalleled global coalition for clean air.

The pledge unveiled today at the C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen commits cities to set ambitious pollution reduction targets and implement substantive clean air policies by 2025. By publicly reporting on their progress, the cities plan to generate a ‘race to the top’ in cleaning the air in the world’s big cities. The cities signing the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration are:

Amman, Austin, Bengaluru, Barcelona, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Delhi, Dubai, Durban (eThekwini), Guadalajara, Heidelberg, Houston, Jakarta, Los Angeles, Lima, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Medellin, Mexico City, Milan, Oslo, Paris, Portland, Quezon City, Quito, Rotterdam, Seoul, Stockholm, Sydney, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Tokyo, Warsaw, Washington D.C.

Mayors, speaking at a press conference in Copenhagen had a clear message “We know we need to tackle the twin dangers of air pollution and the climate emergency. Both need swift, unprecedented and collective action to remove the pollution that is harming our health and warming our planet.”

According to the World Health Organization, 9 in 10 citizens around the world breathe dirty air, and 7 million people die prematurely each year due to air pollution. Air pollution is creating a global public health crisis — one that is rooted in social injustice. Typically, it is the poorest and most vulnerable communities that are most affected by dirty, polluted air.

Through the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration, mayors commit to using their power and influence to reduce air pollution and work towards meeting the World Health Organization’s Air Quality Guidelines. This means cities will continually reduce their local emissions, and advocate for reductions in regional emissions, resulting in continuous declines in air pollution levels that move towards the WHO guidelines:

Signatories of the declaration pledge to: Set ambitious pollution reduction targets within two years that meet or exceed national commitments, putting them on a path towards meeting World Health Organization guidelines; Implement substantive clean air policies by 2025 that address the unique causes of pollution in their cities; and Publicly report progress on achieving these goals.

If the 35 signatories reduce annual average PM2.5 levels to WHO guidelines (10 ug/m3) it could avoid 40,000 deaths each year.

Mayors have a wide array of tools at their disposal for improving air quality, including expanding low- or zero-carbon public transport; creating zero-emissions zones; requiring and promoting cleaner fuels for heating and cooking; enhancing incentives and infrastructure to support walking and cycling, and establishing city-wide air quality monitoring. However, they also recognize cities often do not have the ability to address all causes of pollution, and are calling upon nation states, businesses and all those who care about climate change and public health to match this commitment. The Declaration includes this message for all responsible actors: “We will use all the powers at our disposal as mayors to tackle air pollution, and call on others responsible for the sources of air pollution that poison the air in our cities to match this commitment.”

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London said: “Toxic air pollution is a global crisis, and as Mayors, it is our fundamental responsibility to protect the public from this invisible killer. That’s why, in London, we have launched the world’s first ultra-low emission zone, expanded our air quality monitoring network and taken ambitious steps to electrify and expand public transport. After the first four months of ULEZ more than 75 per cent of vehicles in central London now meet these tough standards. Cities are leading the efforts to tackle pollution with innovative solutions, and I’m pleased to join Mayors around the world in signing this declaration to help deliver clean air for all.”

Mayor of Paris and Chair of C40 Anne Hidalgo, said: “Breathing clean air is a fundamental human right. The fossil fuel and combustion car industry are responsible for a global public health crisis. The commitments announced today by 35 pioneering mayors, clearly demonstrates that the era of toxic emissions that poison the air we all breathe is coming to an end. I won’t rest until all Parisians breathe clean air.”

“Citizens, young and old have a right to clean air! And we have an obligation to look at every opportunity to improve the air in our cities. Copenhagen fully supports the C40 Clean Air Declaration and the call for new initiatives, which can reduce air pollution.” said Frank Jensen, Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, and C40 Vice Chair.

“Our residents deserve to know that future generations will inherit a livable planet — and that our air, water, and natural resources will be protected and preserved,” said Los Angeles Mayor and Chair Elect Eric Garcetti. “C40 Cities are leading the global work to reduce emissions with bold, concrete actions to ensure our children and grandchildren can breathe clean, healthy air.”

Over the last decade, cities have been taking action to address underlying causes of air pollution, including high-emission transportation systems. 35 cities, including Milan, London, and Copenhagen, have committed to the C40 Green and Healthy Streets Declaration, through which they have pledged to procure only zero-emissions buses from 2025 and make a major area of the city transport emissions-free by 2030.

C40 research shows that if all C40 cities cleaned their transport, buildings and industry this would reduce GHG emissions by 87%, PM2.5 by nearly 50% and would avoid over 220,000 premature deaths per year. At a city level, this work also highlights the benefits from specific climate and air quality actions:

By switching the bus fleet to clean vehicles and implementing a zero-emission zone in Paris, the city could avert 385 premature deaths and save 0.5MtCO2e per year. Mexico City has launched a programme to incentivise industry to improve their efficiency as well as adopt sustainable technologies. This is expected to avert 60 premature deaths and prevent over 575 hospital admissions per year. Los Angeles’ Green New Deal includes policies on transportation, buildings, and industry that could reduce GHG emissions by 26.1 MtCO2e and prevent 1,650 premature deaths and 660 hospital admissions per year from reduced air pollution.

Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal, said, “Delhi faces challenges ranging from Indo-Gangetic emissions, misaligned governance structures, and multiple government agencies in the nation’s capital, with the common citizen bearing its greatest burden. Thus, the Delhi Government has strived to make energy, mobility, water, infrastructure, health, and education into a sustainable public good. These initiatives have led to a 25% reduction in particulate emissions in three years making Delhi a role model for Indian cities. Our Clean Air plan ahead focuses on an integrated system of governance with welfare outcomes and green solutions at scale at its core. These include the creation of city-scale 269 water bodies, greenscaping of 500 kilometers of roads and induction of 1000 electric buses as well as several policies, programs and projects to curb air pollution.”

Mayor of Portland Ted Wheeler, said: “In the wake of attacks from the federal government to roll back critical climate and clean air regulations in the United States, it is essential that cities continue to be the stewards of science-based environmental and health protection,” said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. “Cities must lead the way to address local causes of pollution by implementing substantive policies like our Clean Air Construction Standard that reduces diesel emissions. The City of Portland is committed to continued leadership and actions that improve and protect health, especially for our underserved populations.”

Mayor of Lisbon Fernando Medina, said: “Protecting the health and quality of life of citizens is one of the key priorities to ensure liveability in growing urban areas. One of the biggest threats to public health faced by cities such as Lisboa is air pollution. Addressing it with concrete actions is a responsibility that, as Mayor, I am deeply committed to, and actively working on with other cities and Mayors in C40. Lisboa is implementing a city-wide network to monitor air quality in real time, allowing us to better target our actions. This will enable us to deliver the critically needed pollution reduction measures, which include strong investments underway in public transport, green infrastructure, promotion of active mobility and the expansion of existing low-emission zones.”

Mayor of Austin Steve Adler, said, “Cities have the greatest effect on progress toward clean air and climate change goals. That’s what makes this pledge by mayors from around the world both exciting and urgent. Nothing less than the coordinated effort of cities is required to reduce pollution and protect the air we share.”

Mayor of Stockholm, Anna König Jerlmyr, said; “Decreasing our climate impact and improving air quality goes hand in hand, and when it comes to protecting our citizens, decreasing the amount of harmful particles in the air is crucial. Air quality has increased drastically in Stockholm over the last 50 years and we are committed to continuing this positive development. Over the coming years we will implement new measures and we will also continue to strive for transparency, making data on air quality publicly available in real time.”

Anil Kumar, Commissioner Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike BBMP, said: “The deteriorating Air Quality in cities and its impact on public health is an area of growing concern for city authorities. While much is already being done about collecting and monitoring air quality data, little focus has been given on managing the impacts that bad air quality is having on the health of citizens. Furthermore, the use of air quality as a metric for understanding people’s lifestyle choices can be a good way to help educate people and make them understand their personal behavior and the environment we live in.

“As the Co-Lead of the Air Quality Network along with the City of London, I join the other C40 Cities in congratulating C40 Cities in taking the lead on highlighting the importance of using air quality data as a metric for sustainable and equitable development in cities. I also look forward to working with other C40 Cities and learning from them examples of best practices which can be replicated in Bangalore.”

Governing Mayor of Berlin Michael Müller, said: “Clean air is an essential prerequisite if we want all of our residents to be able to lead healthy, happy lives. In order to track air quality and keep our residents informed, Berlin has maintained an air quality monitoring network for almost 40 years now and has the highest density of monitoring sites in Germany. Based on the data collected, Berlin has developed an ambitious set of measures as part of the new Clean Air Plan. With these measures, we want to achieve the primary goal of the Clean Air Cities declaration as early as the end of 2020: meeting the strict WHO guidelines – here for nitrogen dioxide vehicle emissions.”

Mayor of Milan Giuseppe Sala, said: “With the Clean Air Cities Declaration, we are marking a turning point in the approach to air quality issues, as we are recognizing that air pollution and global warming go hand-in-hand. Milan works on an ‘Air Quality & Climate Plan’, integrating actions to clean the air citizens breathe with measures to reduce greenhouse gases emissions.

“I wish many more mayors will join in and call upon their national governments, businesses and city users to commit to the same cause: air knows no border and we will achieve effective results only if we act collectively.”

His Excellency, the Mayor of Amman Yousef Shawarbeh, said, “City of Amman will remain committed to its obligations toward Climate Change Agenda. Our planet is “choking” with ferocious air pollution. Cities are the planet’s lungs, and the air we breathe needs our support.”

Mayor of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, Horacio Rodriguez Larreta, said: “In Buenos Aires we work every day to build a resilient, sustainable and inclusive city. That is why we commit ourselves against climate change and take concrete measures to improve the quality of life of neighbors. By signing C40´s commitment of Clean Air Cities, we intend to deepen the air quality improvement policies, as we have been doing by fostering sustainable mobility in bikes and pedestrian areas. By the end of 2019, we will have created new 110 hectares of green spaces, to which in the next 4 years we will add 100 more. Additionally, we are going to plant 100,000 new trees to oxygenate the city, so that we can all enjoy being outside and breathing clean air.”

Guadalajara Municipal President Ismael del Toro Castro said; “In Guadalajara, we suffer the ravages of the climatic emergency, and we hereby make a pact to take actions on this matter. We are committed to do whatever is necessary to become a city that generates green spaces; aware of the need to reduce the use of fossil fuels; the application of clean technologies; bicycle use, and integral waste management, among others, to improve the air quality of our city.”

Mayor of Heidelberg, Prof. Dr. Eckart Würzner, said: “Clean Air is a very relevant topic in Heidelberg. Together with the neighbour Cities of Mannheim and Ludwigshafen, Heidelberg has created the Master Plan ‘Sustainable Mobility for the City’ which addresses a lot of the issues, that the Clean Air Cities declaration deals with as well. Therefore I am very happy to be able to share our experiences in Clean Air Policies with C40 cities and learn from other Mayors best practice in this field of climate protection.”

Yuriko Koike, Governor of Tokyo, said: “As a global megalopolis, Tokyo declared that it will seek to achieve the 1.5 degree goal and by 2050, become a ‘Zero Emission Tokyo’ that contributes to the world’s net-zero carbon emissions. As a vice-chair of C40, I will see that Tokyo implements ambitious countermeasures against air pollution, and work hand in hand with cities of the world and stakeholders to achieve clean air.”

Mayor of Medellín, Federico Gutiérrez, said: “Medellín is a thriving city, sensitive to air quality and climate safety issues focused on addressing the main sources of pollution through actions aimed at expanding and renewing its public transport towards clean technologies framed in the implementation of zero-emissions mobility in our Metro, Metroplús buses and electric taxis.

“In our city, we have also made progress in the consolidation of the green component with the construction of 30 green corridors, 23 green walls, and planting almost one million trees during this administration. These actions join the improvement of air quality monitoring for making sound decisions aimed at the conscious planning of the future climate reality we seek”.

Vice Mayor of Madrid Begoña Villacís, said: “The quality of our air is the quality of our commitment to the health of our citizens. In Madrid, we are increasing our efforts to reduce air pollution by combining a set of citywide measures that, among others, promote electric mobility, extend the coverage of car and bicycle sharing systems, renew public and private fleets, impose restrictions to the most polluting vehicles and expand the public transport network. Our efforts also build on a recently established low-emission zone in the city center, on new pedestrian areas and on constructing dissuasive parking lots in the metropolitan area. We aim to provide our citizens the quality of air and life that they need and deserve.”

Mayor of Warsaw, Rafał Trzaskowski, said: “Air pollution is one of the biggest problems Polish cities face. Warsaw, the biggest city and country’s capital, leads the fight for the clean air. In the coming three years, we will implement an ambitious plan to dismantle all the solid-fuel boilers, furnaces and stoves. We invest in public transport: metro lines, trams, electric buses. We also improve cycling infrastructure. I’m glad I can share our experiences with other metropolises in Europe and the world so that we can act together and free our cities from smog.”

Mayor of Quito, Jorge Yunda Machado, said: “In Quito, more than 52% of CO2 emissions and approximately 90% of pollutants in the air are responsibility of public and private vehicles. In order to mitigate the contamination from the transport sector, Quito´s municipality is committed to strengthen the Metropolitan Network for Atmospheric Monitoring, which allows the collection of data for the creation and improvement of public policy. The aim is to achieve the air quality that the capital of Ecuador deserves, fulfilling in the short term the World Health Organisation Standards and goals of the Paris Agreement.

“For this, we have established several actions such as: The creation of a municipal ordinance to decarbonize the transport sector, mandatory technical reviews of public and private vehicles, pedestrian areas within Quito´s Historic Center, demand better fuel quality with lower sulfur content to the National Government, transition to low-emissions transport technologies such as the Metro of Quito and electric buses, and finally, the establishment of “Hoy No Circula” which means “Today does not circulate” a measure in force since September 2019 that seeks to discourage the growth of private vehicles in the city.”

His Excellency Abdulla Mohammed Al Basti, Secretary General of The Executive Council of Dubai said: “In line with UAE’s 2021 Sustainability Agenda, we are delighted to sign the Air Quality Declaration under the C40 umbrella, strengthening our commitment to securing cleaner air for Dubai’s residents and visitors. The declaration leverages the significant efforts undertaken by Dubai’s Air Quality Strategy to identify and tackle key sources of air pollution, and sets clear objectives and actions for all key stakeholders from the energy, transport and industrial sectors, among others. Improving air quality is at the top of our local environmental heath priorities, and we are confident this partnership with C40 will contribute to furthering our sustainability agenda, and to a healthier environment for all.”

Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore said: “The World Health Organisation considers air pollution to be the single largest environmental danger to public health globally, accounting for an estimated 4.2 million deaths per year due to stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and chronic respiratory diseases.

“It is an increasingly important issue for cities, as the major source of human-induced air pollution is the combustion of fuels in vehicles that congest our streets. Reducing the impacts of air pollution on our community’s health is one of the principle reasons why the City of Sydney has boldly moved forward with and strongly advocated for projects that improve air quality, such as new cycleways, urban greening, electric buses, and transformative public transport projects.”

Sylvester Turner, Mayor of Houston, said: “Houston joining the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration is an important step in our ongoing endeavor to make sure all Houstonians thrive in a safe and clean environment. Continuing to reduce air pollution in a highly industrialized city such as Houston requires innovation. Houston is proud to lead the way by being the first City to pilot the use of hyper-local air monitoring on our municipal fleet vehicles. We’ve also launched an automated air quality alert system and utilize the most highly sophisticated mobile VOC equipment available to help keep Houstonians safe and informed.”

Jane Burston, Executive Director, Clean Air Fund, said: “Air pollution is a public health emergency, and it is getting worse. Almost every city in the world suffers from harmful levels of air pollution, much of which is due to the burning of fossil fuels. Mayors around the world are taking action to protect the health of their citizens, and at the same time and with the same actions, to avert dangerous climate change and to strengthen their economies. The Clean Air Fund is therefore excited to support C40 and see cities coming together and demonstrating leadership in tackling this urgent crisis.”

On 9 October, C40 mayors announced their support for a Global Green New Deal to “drive an urgent, fundamental and irreversible transfer of global resources away from fossil fuels and into action that averts the climate emergency.” The C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration, is just one example of how cities are delivering on that vision.

The C40 World Mayors Summit is made possible with support from Grundfos, Novo Nordisk, Dell Technologies, IKEA, Microsoft, Rambøll, Velux, The Bernard van Leer Foundation and Google. 

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