City Action to Address the Climate Emergency

Human civilisation is facing an environmental crisis on a global scale.  The world has failed to stop carbon emissions rising in a way that is consistent with a sustainable future for humanity and now we face a climate emergency. But the world’s leading cities are taking action to respond to the climate crisis and create the future we want. 

In 2016, C40 announced that every member city must set out a robust plan for how they will deliver climate action consistent with constraining global heating to no more than 1.5°C by 2020. To give us even a 50% chance of staying within climate-safe limits, cities need to collectively peak emissions by 2020 and reduce emissions by at least half  by 2030 - recognising that these are minimum targets, because even these only gives us a 50% chance of staying within the limits that science says is safe. 

Through C40’s Deadline 2020 initiative, more than 100 cities around the world have already committed to create and begin implementing inclusive climate action plans consistent with their fair share of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C. 

Half of the cities in the C40 network will have peaked emissions by the end of 2020, and new figures reveal that 30 cities have now peaked their emissions and are making rapid progress to bring them down to net zero. 

In 2018, C40 cities committed to science-based targets to curb emissions in sectors that are some of the greatest urban contributors to the climate crisis: buildings, transportation, and waste.  

63 cities, regions and businesses have committed to C40’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Declaration. Action from the 23 C40 cities alone will result in the equivalent carbon saving of shutting down nearly 50 coal-fired power stations.

By signing onto C40’s Green and Healthy Streets Declaration, 34 cities have pledged to procure only zero-emission buses after 2025 and to ensure that a major area of their city is zero emission by 2030. The potential impact is more than 120,000 zero emission buses on the streets of just these 34 cities. Today in C40 cities there are already 66,000 zero emission buses, when in 2010 there were fewer than 100.  

Through C40’s Advancing Towards Zero Waste Declaration, 28 cities and regions representing around 155 million citizens will reduce the amount of waste disposal by more than 157 million tonnes by 2030.

By pledging to deliver specific actions and meet concrete science-based targets, these mayors are leading the world to implement the Paris Agreement.

But more must be done. Recognising the critical need to protect citizens’ health, improve urban liveability and reduce growing source of emissions that comes from unsustainable urban consumption, C40 mayors are now making high-ambition commitments on clean air and sustainable food.

At the 2019 C40 World Mayors Summit, mayors are continuing to focus on actions with highest potential for emission reductions and where cities have the power to set global standards and shift markets. Two new declarations promoting sustainable urban food systems and air quality were announced this week.

As part of C40’s Clean Air Cities Declaration, 35 mayors have committed to set targets and implement policies towards meeting World Health Organisation (WHO) Air Quality Guidelines for the more than 140 million people who live in their cities. If the 34 signatories reduce just annual average PM2.5 levels to meet WHO guidelines (10 ug/m3), it could avoid 40,000 deaths each year.  

Through the C40 Good Food Cities Declaration, 14 mayors pledge to work with citizens to transition to a planetary health diet by 2030. These 14 cities serve 500 million meals per year in schools, hospitals, and other public buildings, and are improving availability and affordability of delicious, nutritious and sustainable food for their 64 million citizens.