A blog series from C40’s City Diplomacy team. 

Cities step up to meet our planet’s challenges

As we gear up for 2018, which will be an important turning point for staying on track with the goals of the Paris Agreement, it is interesting to look back to 2017 and take stock of the strong commitments that our C40 cities have made to climate action. Together and individually, we are “the new face of leadership” – as described by former US President Barack Obama at the North American Climate Summit in Chicago earlier this month. Together we offer hopes that we can and will address one of the greatest challenges of this century. The work has started in our cities and this month’s announcements in Chicago, Accra and Paris are raising the bar for 2018.

From 4-5 December, Mayor Rahm Emanuel hosted the first-ever North American Climate Summit in Chicago, with representatives from American, Canadian and Mexican cities and in partnership with the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCoM). On this occasion over 50 mayors signed the Chicago Climate Charter to send a clear signal that American cities are more than ever committed to reducing carbon emissions, addressing the challenges of climate change in their cities and doing their share to keep the world on track with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

Meanwhile, in Accra, from 5-7 December, Mayor Mohammed Adjei Sowah hosted the C40 African Adaptation Forum, which saw the launch of the C40 Adaptation Diplomacy project. The objective of this project is to support the engagement of cities in the Global South in international adaptation and resilience dialogues, in line with the Paris Agreement, Sustainable Development Agenda, Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the New Urban Agenda. During the workshop, representatives from nine C40 African cities came together with members of national governments, utility providers, the private sector, research institutes, international financing institutions to share their experiences, successful solutions and ideas. The workshop was held with project partners ICLEI, 100 Resilient Cities, UN-Habitat, and Slum Dwellers International. The next edition of this forum will focus on Asian cities specifically. This project will undoubtedly feed input to the Talanoa Dialogue on issues of urban resilience and adaptation measures.

Finally, on 12 December, C40 cities were present at the One Planet Summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron, to mark the 2-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement and demonstrate renewed commitment to reaching a climate-safe future. Our cities joined many high-level partners for game changing announcements:

  • Buenos Aires and Paris announced the launch of Urban 20 (U20), a new city diplomacy initiative facilitated by C40 to raise the profile of urban issues and enhance the role of cities in the G20 agenda. This initiative will learn from past G20 and G7 campaigns led by C40, UCLG and ICLEI. The U20 inaugural summit will take place in October 2018 in Buenos Aires.
  • The Danish government announced a 2 million EUR grant to support climate action planning under C40’s Deadline 2020 program in African and Asian megacities.
  • Together with the GCoM and ICLEI, C40 signed the One Planet Charter to accelerate local implementation of the Paris Agreement. Through this global campaign cities will commit to specific actions to drive investment, sustainable public procurement and policy decisions in renewable energy, energy efficiency, electric vehicles, and efforts for zero emission buildings and zero waste.
  • Finally, C40 is joining two announcements by the French Government. Those 32 C40 cities that pledged to emissions neutrality by 2050 will be recognized as groundswell local ambition by the Coalition for Carbon Neutrality and the Fossil-Fuel-Free Street Declaration will be referenced by the Transport Decarbonisation Alliance, which C40 endorses.

With these announcements and throughout 2017, C40 cities have consistently led in vision and in action. With the support of our partners, we are poised to continue making a positive impact on climate action – and inspiring more to follow in our steps. The bar has been raised in 2017, and we are ready to address the challenges to come. We are ready for 2018!

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