• New analysis from C40 Cities suggests efforts to meet climate targets and protect the most vulnerable can be accelerated if more power and funding is given to local leaders.
  • A new C40 report, titled Powering inclusive climate action in cities, showcases ways cities around the world are taking action to helping low-income residents – predominantly Black, Asian and minority populations, who tend to have the smallest carbon footprints but suffer the most severe consequences of climate change.
  • C40 and its Chair, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, are showcasing urban climate leadership during London Climate Action Week (25 June-3 July).
  • Mayor Khan re-confirms his commitment to taking the necessary action to reduce climate risk and to use his leadership of the C40 network to help cities across the Global South.

A new report published by C40 Cities shows more powers and funding will need to be devolved and allocated to mayors and local leaders if national governments are serious about reaching climate targets. The report showcases ways cities are meeting the urgent challenges of the climate crisis in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, an ongoing pandemic and persistent inequality. It focuses on ways mayors and city officials can use their powers innovatively and across sectors to provide an equitable response to the climate crisis.

C40’s analysis shows that whilst cities around the world are leveraging formal and soft powers in innovative ways, significant power gaps remain at the local level, preventing change at the necessary scale and pace. 

In London, for example, Mayor Sadiq Khan, the current Chair of C40, has taken bold action to create green jobs, build climate resilience and ensure the benefits of climate action are felt equitably. However, additional powers are needed for the city to protect its most vulnerable residents. The mayor of London’s formal powers are limited, particularly when compared with other cities, such as New York or Paris. In London, the mayor has limited control over important social and economic domains, including health, housing, employment and social services.

Given the intersecting crises of the rising cost of living and inequality, the pandemic and climate breakdown, the need for greater powers for mayors has never been greater. Cities have already demonstrated that it is not possible to tackle the climate crisis without tackling inequality and vice versa. National governments now need to learn from cities on how best to tackle both climate and equity, devolve powers to cities and provide funding to local leaders to enable them to go further, faster. 

Aside from London, C40’s power analysis research shows that other cities are also experimenting with diverse and innovative approaches to use their formal and soft powers to drive inclusive climate action. 

Barcelona has tailored a variety of initiatives toward vulnerable populations in an effort to reach its climate justice target to reach zero energy poverty by 2030. The city is also working towards the target of establishing climate shelters for all residents within a 5-minute walk from their homes by 2030, making great strides through public outreach campaigns and the doubling of their climate shelter network in just a year. 

Accra is working with informal waste sector workers to scale up community-driven solutions, enhancing workers’ ownership of climate action while expanding access to workers’ benefits. 

Mumbai has developed a climate governance framework to address capacity limits the city’s Environment Department is facing. This will include the creation of a Vulnerable Communities Department to prioritise equity and inclusion. 

In Buenos Aires, a city law ensures there is a participatory process for developing new social housing units in informal settlements including climate measures such as the use of solar panels for water heating and employing local workers in building projects.

C40 is supporting Cape Town, Durban, Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg and Tshwane to implement just transition policies and programmes and engage with the national government. The cities are advocating for local government representation on South Africa’s Presidential Climate Change Commission (PCC) and using their influence to ensure that national plans and processes recognise the important role local government can play in supporting and implementing a just transition. PCC has committed to working with cities to strengthen local government engagement in national policy making, and is working with C40cities to make this happen.

As Chair of C40, Mayor Khan has committed to supporting cities around the world to roll out similar climate action to reduce emissions and air pollution. He has made clear that a just transition, including support for cities in the Global South, is vital – and has already delivered on his key pledge to direct a record two-thirds of the C40 budget towards Global South cities.

Chair of C40 Cities and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The climate emergency is one of the biggest global threats we face today. Here in London we are already experiencing first-hand the impact of the climate crisis, with flash floods last summer and heatwaves the year before which led to almost 500 deaths.

“We don’t have time to waste. The climate emergency means we only have a small window of opportunity left to help save our planet by reducing carbon emissions and prioritising climate action that benefits us all.  

“This is also a matter of social and racial justice. The climate crisis won’t affect all Londoners equally – with the poorest, marginalised communities and most vulnerable expected to be hit the hardest. Poverty, deprivation and health inequalities also reduce people’s ability to prepare for, respond and recover from overheating and flooding incidents.

“Cities are leading the way when it comes to tackling the climate emergency. As leaders representing over 700 million people and a quarter of the global economy, we must convince national governments to unleash our potential. National targets cannot be met without our help and we stand ready to accelerate action with their support.”

Mayor of Barcelona and C40 vice chair, Ada Colau, said: “Cities are leading the way in tackling the climate emergency and as mayors, we need to push national governments to catch up with the bold and ambitious plans cities are overseeing. It is essential that we deliver this climate action equitably so that all citizens, especially the most vulnerable, are protected. In Barcelona, we have been using our powers to set strong climate justice and equity goals in our Climate Action Plan, including a target of reaching zero energy poverty by 2030, and are delivering innovative programmes to tackle energy poverty and increase resilience of the community to issues such as rising heatwaves and increasing energy prices.”

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