Cities on track to meet the Paris goal

Aerial view of Centra Park in New York. (Pixabay)

Fifty-four cities are on the way to keeping global warming below 1.5 C, the organisation C40 cities has found.

The network of cities released an analysis of the climate action plans of 54 cities on 11 December, at an event hosted by mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, for the 5th anniversary of the Paris agreement. If fully implemented, these plans could prevent at least 1.9 gigatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions between 2020 and 2030, according to the findings.

“This analysis confirms what we have long known to be true: cities will keep doing their part to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, root our strategies in science, protect our most vulnerable residents, and deliver a green economy that works for everyone,” said Eric Garcetti, mayor of Los Angeles and C40 chair.

Why is this important? As the world keeps heating up, icebergs continue to melt and sea levels rise, the time left to achieve the Paris agreement goal to keep global heating below 2 C, compared to pre-industrial levels is running out. As major carbon emitters – 75 per cent of global emissions –, cities are a key component to accelerating climate action.

Launched in 2005, C40 is a network of cities from across the globe committed to reducing their part of carbon emissions. They are part of the Cities Race to Zero initiative, which aims to recruit 1,000 cities for the Race to Zero, a global initiative rallying businesses, cities, regions, civil society and investors across the globe to accelerate action towards zero net carbon emissions ahead of the climate summit COP26 to be held next year in Glasgow.

Read also: The Race to Zero, a masterplan to tip the system before it's too late

How cities are driving climate action. From planting trees, to expanding cycle routes, the analysis highlights leading efforts by these cities representing more than 200,000 inhabitants.

One of the frontrunners, Copenhagen is on the way to becoming the world’s first city to reach carbon neutrality by 2025. In order to reach this, it has laid out a plan to make transportation and energy consumption more eco-friendly. A key part of the city’s formula is replacing coal, oil and natural gas with renewable energies, which will account for 80 per cent of total emissions reduction.

Read also: Frontrunners on climate: just doing it

Another city leading the way is New York. Other than its comprehensive plan to reduce carbon emissions, particularly through investing in clean transportation and strengthening regulations for building energy efficiency, its actions have also had a significant political impact. In June 2017, one day after President Donald Trump announced the US’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement, the mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio signed an agreement, pledging to honour the 2015 landmark deal. Hundreds of cities across the US followed suit afterwards.

Also mentioned in the study, Mexico City plans to open more than 100km of public transport corridors and four new car lines by 2024. Sao Paulo is making local and organic food production one its priorities and Dakar will reduce climate risks in urban planning to improve flood management.

More cities are joining. A day after the analysis was released, C40 announced that 72 new cities and local authorities had joined the Cities Race to Zero, strengthening the global movement to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. The Race to Zero initiative now has rallied 454 cities, 23 regions, 1,397 companies, 569 universities, and 74 investors to join 121 countries in the climate ambition alliance, representing almost 25 per cent of global CO2 emissions and more than 50 per cent of the world’s GDP.