In a show of force before COP26, American mayors sign onto the Cities Race to Zero, a UN campaign to rally urban leadership for ambitious climate action.

A bipartisan group of U.S. mayors representing more than 54 million Americans have pledged to put equity at the heart of climate action, while doing their fair share to help the United States reach its goal to halve emissions by 2030 and achieve net-zero by 2050.

Ahead of next month’s COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, C40 Cities Chair and Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti announced that 130 American cities have officially joined the Cities Race to Zero, a UN-backed campaign to rally urban leaders to deliver a zero-carbon world and unlock inclusive, sustainable growth.

Earlier this month, Secretary John Kerry, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate; Gina McCarthy, White House National Climate Advisor, and Michael Bloomberg, UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions joined Mayor Garcetti, Chair of C40 Cities, and Climate Mayors Chair and Mayor of Houston Sylvester Turner to call upon American cities to sign onto the Cities Race to Zero.

This show of force comes at a critical moment, just a week before representatives from national governments, global institutions, corporations, businesses, and civil society will gather in Glasgow, Scotland for COP26.

American mayors signing onto the Cities Race to Zero join cities around the world in committing to action that limits global temperature rise to 1.5ºC – the global standard for reducing carbon emissions driving the climate emergency. This past August, after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest report, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres declared a “code red for humanity” and has urged governments and institutions to redouble their efforts to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis.

“Mayors worldwide are on the front lines of the climate change crisis — and we stand front and center in the fight to address it,” said C40 Cities Chair, Climate Mayors Co-Founder, and Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti. “Cities will never shirk their responsibility to preserve our environment, invest in clean solutions, and protect the health of our communities — and thanks to Mayor Turner and my fellow Climate Mayors, American cities are stepping up to set an example that will spur climate action here in the United States and across the world.”

Michael R. Bloomberg, UN Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions, Founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Global Ambassador for the Race to Zero and Race to Resilience Campaigns said, “Mayors understand that the same steps that cut carbon emissions also make cities healthier, more prosperous, and more equitable – and that the more boldly they act, the more the public will benefit. By answering the call to action and committing to reach net-zero emissions, U.S. cities are setting a strong example for the world at a critical moment.”

“Wildfires and extreme temperatures plaguing American communities are stark reminders of the clear and present danger of climate change,” said Sylvester Turner, Chair of Climate Mayors and Mayor of Houston. “Elected officials at every level of government have a responsibility to act, but we cannot tackle this crisis without a coordinated effort between cities, states, and our partners in the federal government. American mayors are standing together today to declare our commitment to delivering the level of ambition science demands and meeting our promises to the rest of the world. We look forward to working together with our federal partners – and cities across the globe – to create liveable, sustainable, and resilient communities we need and deserve.”

“It is inspiring to see all the local governments that are stepping up and fighting climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is our communities that are on the front line, bearing the brunt of climate disasters and creating new ways to be better prepared,” said Brigid Shea, ICLEI USA Board Chair and Travis County TX Commissioner. “We are full partners with the US and other nations of the world in tackling this enormous challenge.”

US cities committed to the Race to Zero have reported to CDP that they are already undertaking 657 actions to reduce emissions, including adopting energy efficiency and retrofit measures, improving mass transit infrastructure and operations, and developing the green economy. These cities identified 213 infrastructure projects seeking funding, from major water infrastructure investments to EV infrastructure charging stations.

ICLEI USA analyzed 100 U.S. city and county pathways to achieve science-based targets consistent with what the IPCC has determined is necessary to avoid more than 1.5°C of global warming. Under a realistic, though ambitious, set of assumptions, ICLEI found it is possible for most local communities in the US to reduce per-capita emissions by 63% or more by 2030.

Led by C40 Cities, CDP, the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, ICLEI, UCLG, WRI, and WWF, the Cities Race to Zero is part of the UN’s Race to Zero campaign, an initiative of the UN High-Level Climate Champions for Climate Action to rally climate leadership and provide a formal mechanism for cities and non-state actors to set official climate targets alongside national governments. The Race to Zero aims to bolster action from businesses, cities, regions, and investors to deliver a green and just COVID recovery, create strong, fair economies, and cut greenhouse gas emissions quickly enough to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

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