Hear from the incredible people behind the work we do at C40 Cities

After two weeks of negotiations at COP28, delegates delivered a global agreement that, for the first time, sent a strong signal that the world must transition away from fossil fuels.

C40 mayors also walked away from COP28 with the most robust language ever in a negotiated agreement that recognises the central role of multilevel action in driving global climate progress. During the Local Climate Action Summit and elsewhere in C40 events at COP28, mayors showed the world they are crucial partners in delivering ambitious climate action because they are already doing what is needed to cut fossil fuel demand while building resilient and equitable communities.

As a global network of 96 mayors of the world’s leading cities, we know cities face distinct challenges due to their diverse social, political, and economic contexts and the varied climate risks they confront. C40’s Regional Directors are a vital link between the C40 network, mayors and city officials, understanding the unique strengths and needs of cities within their region and helping champion and amplify the impactful climate action cities are delivering.

Following COP28, we asked C40’s Regional Directors to share what COP28 means for cities in their region. Read their reflections below.

Managing Director, Regions and Mayoral Engagement, and Regional Director, Africa

“African cities went to COP28 with expectations around just energy transition, financing climate action, especially to enhance adaptation actions, and operationalising the loss and damage fund.”

“It is important to note that none of the issues of interest to African cities were tossed under the carpet. African citizens should remember COP28 for boldly adopting a Global Goal on adaptation with well-articulated targets. Added to this, the global stocktake has struck a balance between mitigation and adaptation actions. The operationalisation of the loss and damage fund is also a great addition for a region such as Africa, where extreme weather events have impacted economics and social life and continue to do so.”

“Each time global decision-makers make commitments such as those expressed in the COP28 outcome, I ask if there is enough money to achieve them. This is where I have been disappointed with COP28. Evidently, not enough money has been put on the table to accomplish the decisions made. While I welcome the financing made available for operationalising the loss and damage fund, it is important to recognise that the fund needs more money than is currently provided, and that more governments must invest in it.”

“COP28 has made a strong statement that national and subnational governments need to work together to address climate breakdown. We need to take advantage of the strong Coalition For High Ambition Multilevel Partnerships (CHAMP) and ensure that cities and national governments work together. COP29 should do more to create space for cities – building on the strong voice and presence of cities at COP28.”

Regional Director, Central East Asia

“There was a strong Chinese city presence at COP28; from Hong Kong, Beijing and Nanjing joining the first Local Climate Action Summit to champion for actions on air quality and energy transition, to Shenzhen and Beijing hosting city events in the China pavilion, sharing their leading climate actions. Examples like Shenzhen’s 100% electrification of buses and taxis, and Beijing’s 50% air pollution reductions in the past decade. Such achievements are evidence that Chinese cities are committed actors in leading the delivery of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and the Paris Agreement goals.”

“The Climate Envoy of China, Zhenhua XIE, spoke at the Local Climate Action Summit as a co-chair, highlighting the role of cities on climate and the various city-climate programmes that China’s national government initiated to support local governments to pioneer new policies, solutions and practices on climate. For example, the low-carbon city and towns programmes, the urban climate adaptation programme, and the city climate finance pilot programme, demonstrating the mainstreaming of local actions in China’s climate endeavour.”

“In the China pavilion, C40 hosted an event for Chinese cities and global peers to share experiences of embedding climate action within economic and social policy, helping foster cross-region dialogue and collaboration. Officials from the municipal governments and ports of Shanghai and Los Angeles highlighted their cooperation on the world’s first trans-Pacific green shipping corridor, aiming at a net-zero shipping line by 2030. Only by working together can we win the battle on climate.”

Regional Director, East, Southeast Asia and Oceania, and Global South Diversity Lead

“The East, Southeast Asia, and Oceania (ESEAO) region encompasses a diverse landscape of politics, economies, and communities. Amidst these differing contexts, the strong commitment through concrete initiatives and actions shared by our C40 mayors and governors at COP28 carried significant implications, spanning across Global North and Global South concerns.”

“COP28 provided mayors from the region an opportunity to highlight the need to deploy clean energy and prioritise climate resilience measures quickly. Participation at the Local Climate Action Summit gave mayors a chance to amplify the unique abilities of cities to deliver and translate commitments into impact, with mayors as front liners in confronting the climate emergency. COP’s stress on loss and damage underscored the critical need to fortify our cities against climate impacts–– especially crucial to our region given its heightened susceptibility to climate-induced disasters and strained infrastructure––especially among Global South cities and marginalised communities within city jurisdictions. Mayors and cities who participated joined COP events conscious of the need for immediate responses to, and recovery from, heatwaves and extreme flooding.”

“The advocacy for urban financing resonated across ESEAO cities, with calls for reforms in Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), holds the most relevance for C40 cities in Southeast Asia. Aligning financial mechanisms with urban climate initiatives can ensure better accessibility and tailored support for the region, facilitating cities’ efforts to tackle climate change while delivering green jobs, addressing air pollution, and ensuring the wellbeing of all residents, especially those who are disadvantaged.”

“With several countries from the region joining the Coalition for High Ambition Multilevel Partnerships (CHAMP) initiative, the platform provides a real opportunity to progress city climate programmes and projects to scale, while pushing for increased ambition at the national level to align with the Paris Agreement—further promoting city climate leadership in ESEAO.”

Regional Director, Europe

“COP28 and the Local Climate Action Summit have been a turning point for C40’s European mayors, who travelled to Dubai with strong messages on the need to keep the Paris Agreement alive by ending fossil fuel use, achieve climate justice, and deliver a fair and just green transition that leaves no one behind. There is no other option: European cities are already feeling the devastating effects of climate change with increasing extreme heat waves, droughts and floods.”

“Through their participation in various panels, European mayors have shown that they are not waiting for nation-states to talk. They are already showing what ambitious climate action looks like in practice: accelerating the shift to zero-emission transport like Warsaw’s first low emission zone or London’s ULEZ; promoting nature-based solutions for cooling cities like Barcelona’s climate shelters; delivering clean air for city residents, like Paris and Milan, by joining the Breathe Cities initiative; supporting energy-efficient buildings free of fossil fuels like Rotterdam; or tackling consumption and behaviour change like Copenhagen. To do so, they have requested wider support and recognition by being able to access adequate funding and financing mechanisms directly.”

“European mayors stood firm in their demands to keep 1.5°C alive, secure a safe and resilient future for all, and recognise subnational governments as indispensable actors in an inclusive climate transition. They welcomed EU Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič’s announcement, on behalf of the European Commission, supporting the principles and objectives of the CHAMP (Coalition for High Ambition Multilevel Partnerships) initiative. C40 and its member cities in the EU are ready to work hand in hand with the European institutions to make sure cities’ voices are better integrated in planning, designing, and implementing policies to accelerate inclusive climate action and a fair energy transition.”

Regional Director, Latin America

“The significant presence of Latin American cities at COP28 demonstrated the commitment and leadership of the region’s mayors in the efforts against the climate crisis. Bogotá’s Mayor Claudia López’s clear message for more direct access for cities to climate finance, Rio de Janeiro’s Mayor Eduardo Paes’ leadership on the issue of energy transition, and the efforts listed by Santiago Governor Claudio Orrego to combat the water crisis are but some of the examples of how Latin American mayors are already doing what is needed, with the urgency that is required.”

“C40’s Latin American cities are ready to work with national governments––including Brazil, Chile and Colombia––some of the more than 71 national governments that pledged to coordinate and consult subnational governments in the next round of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) through CHAMP, the Coalition for High Ambition Multilevel Partnerships.”

“Including an unprecedented mention of “transition away” from fossil fuels in the final text is a necessary but still insufficient step to avoid the catastrophic effects of the climate crisis. However, its last-minute inclusion is especially promising considering that the new NDCs are due to be presented at COP30 in Brazil. This event will be a unique opportunity for C40’s Latin American cities to work together with national governments and other stakeholders to step up climate action implementation and ensure a green, sustainable and resilient future for the region and for the world.”

Regional Director, North America

“North American cities arrived at COP28 ready to demonstrate their power and potential as leaders in the fight against climate change. By sharing their high ambitions, and their innovation and progress to achieve them, mayors from around the region made the case to the international community and their own governments on the critical importance of integrating cities into national plans to implement climate solutions. From New Orleans’ Mayor Cantrell’s call to action on green infrastructure investments to Washington D.C. Mayor Bowser’s critical discussions with other global mayors, North American mayors demonstrated how cities are taking the lead in creating green jobs, transitioning away from fossil gas, and improving the health and safety of urban residents.”

“COP28 produced a landmark, if limited, agreement to “transition away” from fossil fuels. Though the final agreement lacks detail and support, by confirming the direction the world economy and energy systems are moving, it provides greater confidence and support for cities as they forge ahead in creating a clean, equitable and green future.”

“Crucially, the United States and Canada were among the 71 national governments that agreed to formally enhance cooperation with subnational governments – including cities – to increase the speed and ambition in the planning, financing, and implementation of climate strategies. The recognition will help cities get the support they need to take big steps forward in reducing emissions and demonstrating the feasibility and benefits of a green economy.”

“Moving forward, cities must continue to lead the path forward through increased ambition, innovation, and implementation. Only by keeping up the pressure to act can we continue to make the progress we need to avoid climate breakdown.”

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