By Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris and Chair of C40 Cities, and Frank Jensen, Lord Mayor of Copenhagen and host of the C40 World Mayors Summit
There is still time to avert the global climate emergency, but the window of opportunity is closing fast. We congratulate UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ efforts to accelerate climate action to implement the Paris Agreement at today’s Climate Action Summit in New York City. The Summit demonstrated that the world is full of innovative climate solutions being delivered by those who recognise the risk of climate breakdown. From the business community to civil society to states, regions and cities, change is happening. Yet, the vast majority of nation states are not responding with the same urgency.
On Friday we issued a joint statement with our fellow mayors from New York and Los Angeles, in support of the global climate strikes. Millions of people, led by school children, took to the streets to demand meaningful action to address the climate crisis. As we said, “Young people are telling us that the climate emergency demands an emergency response. We couldn’t agree more.”
Many of the announcements made by national leaders today at the United Nations are welcome, demonstrating that the future we want is possible. By working hand in hand with cities, and matching the level of ambitious climate action being delivered at the local level, nation states can achieve so much more. As new research released this week revealed, investments in low-carbon measures in cities would provide a return of at least US$23.9 trillion by 2050.
But all nation states, especially the biggest polluters, must step up and commit to science-based targets necessary to get the world on track to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, and keep global heating to below 1.5 °C above pre-industrial averages. Residents of the Bahamas slowly rebuilding after Hurricane Dorian, or the Marshall Islands facing the prospect of their homes sinking beneath the waves, are in no doubt about the urgency of the threat we all face.
While we wait for sufficient leadership from the intergovernmental system mayors around the world are leading the way working hand-in-hand with young people, the business community, trade unions and civil society to deliver emissions reductions consistent with a sustainable future for life on our shared planet. In two weeks more than 70 mayors will convene, alongside business leaders, scientists, investors and youth activists, in Copenhagen for the C40 World Mayors Summit, to define how we can get back on track for the future we want before it is too late. We urge all national governments to listen to their young people and join us in this endeavour.