What is the Global Green New Deal?

At the C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen, Chair-Elect of C40 Cities and Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti, alongside the mayors of cities worldwide including Copenhagen, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Sydney and Tokyo, announced their support for a Global Green New Deal and recognized a global climate emergency.  A broad coalition – including youth climate activists, and representatives from labour, business and civil society – also announced their support. This call for a Global Green New Deal comes in response to intergovernmental action being blocked by a small number of very powerful, science-denying governments, representing the interests of the fossil-fuel industry. 

Through the Global Green New Deal, cities have reaffirmed their commitment to protecting our environment, strengthening our economy, and building a more equitable future by cutting emissions from the sectors most responsible for the climate crisis – transportation, buildings, industry, and waste – to keep global heating below the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement. 

This includes putting inclusive climate action at the center of all urban decision-making to secure a just transition for those working in high-carbon industries and correct long-running environmental injustices for those disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis – people living in the Global South generally, and the poorest communities everywhere.

Avoiding the worst impacts of the climate crisis means cutting global emissions in half by 2030. In practical terms that means improving mobility while replacing polluting fossil fuel powered vehicles with clean alternatives; setting the strictest possible building codes and reducing waste, amongst other actions. Policies already being delivered in cities around the world, thanks to the commitment of mayors to the C40 Net Zero Carbon Buildings Declaration, the C40 Advancing Towards Zero Waste Declaration, the C40 Good Food Cities Declaration, the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration, and the C40 Green & Healthy Streets Declaration

Keeping temperature rise to within the limits deemed safe by the overwhelming scientific evidence means not only cutting emissions, but also reducing the carbon already released into our planet’s atmosphere. Even standing still isn’t good enough.
 

Core Principles of the Global Green New Deal

1. We recognise the global climate emergency. 
 

2. We are committed to keeping global heating below the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement by curbing emissions in the sectors that are the greatest contributors to the climate crisis: transportation, buildings, and waste. C40 cities are already cutting emissions at a rate consistent with the limits determined by science – which means peaking emissions by 2020, and halving them by 2030. Every business, individual, investor, partner, informal settlement representative and nation that forms part of Global Green New Deal will commit to similar science based targets.
 

3. We are committed to putting inclusive climate action at the center of all urban decision-making, to create thriving and equitable communities for everyone. Our commitment includes protecting livelihoods, helping end poverty, improving lives, building more equitable societies and securing a just transition for those working in high-carbon industries. Climate delay is already having devastating consequences with the impact being felt most severely by those least responsible for the emissions causing the climate emergency. We will drive an urgent, fundamental and irreversible transfer of global resources away from fossil fuels and into action that averts the climate emergency, thereby building a green and fair ecological civilisation.
 

4. We invite our partners – political leaders, CEOs, trade unions, investors, and civil society – to join us in recognising the global climate emergency and help us deliver on science-based action to overcome it. Business, governments, investors, labour, civil society, citizens, and communities disproportionately impacted by climate change and poverty will form the coalition necessary to tackle the climate crisis. Through the C40 Global Youth Initiative, we will work particularly closely with young people in our cities to help shape the sustainable future they want, providing a route from making their voice heard on the streets into shaping policies and projects in city government.
 

Who is part of the Global Green New Deal so far? And how can I be part of it?

The Global Green New Deal is bringing together the necessary coalition of labour, business, investors, civil society, and youth activists to address the climate crisis. 

Rather than waiting for sufficient national leadership from national governments, we will act together now to do all we can to put in place the solutions we need to prevent climate breakdown and create a world where everyone can thrive, and to push for solutions that are not yet within our reach. 

C40 Chair-Elect Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that over the next year, under his Chairship beginning in December 2019, C40 will seek to systematically engage organised labour, business and civil society groups - building the coalition we need and drastically increasing the number of cities involved. 

This call for a Global Green New Deal is just the beginning. The biggest challenge of our time deserves the biggest possible response, and with everything at stake, everyone has a role to play. Over the next year, working with our partners we will build out what this coalition can do together and bring more people and organizations on board, ensuring that the voice of those impacted are part of the process – from workers to frontline communities to businesses seeking to transition. This coalition’s impact will grow as its membership does, and we welcome collaboration with people everywhere who agree with the core principles stated above. 

Individuals are also essential to the success of our plan to get emissions back on track – to show your support for the core principles of the Global Green New Deal and express your interest in learning more, please add your name here. Organizations or groups that support the principles or are interested in learning more are also invited to leave their name.
 

Key Terms & Definitions

1.5 degrees

Limiting temperature rise is to 1.5°C is the only reliable ‘science-based’ target we have. We know that with any warming beyond this, cities would experience massive increases in food insecurity, water shortages, poverty, risk from extreme weather events and impacts on human health. The Paris Agreement’s target of keeping temperatures ‘well below’ 2°C, and the ‘aspirational’ target of limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C, are based on a vast, robust assessment of the scientific evidence, presented by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), published in 2014, assessed the available evidence on climate change, its implications and potential future risks, as well as put forward adaptation and mitigation options.

When the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015, governments requested the IPCC to provide a special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C, and the global greenhouse gas emissions pathways necessary to meet that goal. The subsequent IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C  (SR1.5) was released in 2018. It presented clear, alarming evidence that half a degree of warming makes a big difference: the risks associated with warming of 2°C are much higher than 1.5°C. As a result, the Paris Agreement’s ‘aspirational’ target of limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C has become the internationally accepted target for climate action – not 2°C.

Inclusive Climate Action

Inclusive and equitable climate action is climate action that takes into consideration all communities and whose impacts are distributed fairly amongst all residents, especially those who are on the frontline of climate change. The climate crisis is unfair, and responses to the climate crisis can also be unfair. Those who have historically benefited from the degradation of the climate the most must support the ecological transition the world desperately needs. This is not necessarily a Global South / Global North divide: it’s between the richest 1% and the rest.

C40 defines ‘inclusivity’ as: The practice of including relevant stakeholders and communities, particularly marginalised and hard-to-reach groups, in the policy-making and urban governance process, in order to ensure a fair policy process with equitable outcomes.  

C40 defines ‘equity’ as: the fair distribution of impacts among groups of people, whether those groups are defined socially, economically, demographically, or geographically.

C40 defines ‘frontline groups’ as: people (individuals, groups, communities, etc) on the frontlines of climate change who experience the first, and the worst, effects. These often include those most dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods, Indigenous communities, and the economically or socially disadvantaged based on race, ethnicity, migrant status, gender, income level, disability, age, working conditions, informality status or religion. They frequently lack economic and political capital; and have fewer resources to prepare for and cope with climate disruptions. 

What is a just transition? 

A just transition is a sector-, city-, region- or economy-wide process that produces the plans, policies and investments so that: Everyone has social protection; All jobs are decent; Emissions are low or at zero; Poverty is eliminated; and Communities are thriving and resilient. 

A just transition includes both measures to reduce the impact of job and livelihood losses and industry phase-out on workers and communities, measures to produce new, low emissions and decent jobs and livelihoods as well as healthy communities.

C40 has partnered with The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the Transport Worker Federation (ITF) and their Just Transition Centre to build bridges in cities between local administrations, unions, employers and communities to advance climate goals, improve air quality and create decent green jobs. Auckland’s climate action plan has Just Transition as one of its 11 drivers. plan was recently discussed by the city council, and there was a  formal public consultation in July 2019. The partnership between ITF and C40 has triggered dialogue between the local administration and the local transport unions. Oslo is the first C40 city to have announced a city-wide Declaration on Just Transition together with the local unions. As a result of the partnership between the Just Transition Centre, C40 and the city, Oslo’s new Just Transition taskforce met for the first time in Autumn 2019.