“We must go further and faster than ever before” – By C40 Chair Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and C40 Executive Director Mark Watts

The impacts of a rapidly heating planet on cities were worse than ever in 2021.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently reported that some climate impacts are now irreversible and the consequences will be felt across society, affecting food and water security, biodiversity and migration. The science is clear: immediate, large-scale action is required to tackle the climate crisis. 

2021 was a year in which cities continued to lead with meaningful action. C40 cities implemented 68 high-impact climate actions across diverse sectors, bringing the total number of climate actions to 871 for the year. These ranged from procuring exclusively zero-emissions bus fleets and restricting single-use and non-recyclable materials, to increasing urban green spaces and canopy cover in vulnerable areas. More than 32 million more C40 city residents enjoyed improved air quality compared with 2020. Thanks to C40 leadership, by November 2021 more than 1,000 global cities had joined the Cities Race to Zero campaign, raising their level of climate ambition and putting the world on track to halve emissions within the next decade – the biggest subnational commitment to be made at a COP event. 

In 2021 cities continued to show themselves to be doers not delayers, galvanising the far-reaching change that is needed. In the coming year, C40 will continue to drive science-based, equitable action by directing two-thirds of our funding to the Global South, targeting global funding to ensure a fair and just urban transition, and leading a landmark rollout of air quality measures to nearly 100 cities worldwide. 

As mayors know, climate action is not only about cutting emissions, but also about ensuring clean air, jobs, prosperity, and a better quality of life for all of our residents. Cities will continue to spearhead our transition to a just, clean and resilient future for all.

What we do today will determine whether or not there is a thriving future for our communities, our cities and the natural world around us. We know that climate breakdown and rising inequality – compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic – require an unprecedented response to match the scale of the crises. That is why C40’s mission is to halve the emissions of its member cities within a decade, while improving equity, building resilience and creating the conditions for everyone, everywhere, to thrive.

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