Cities Almost Double Climate Actions Over 2 Years, C40 Says

Feb 05, 2014 10:15 am ET

(Updates with comment from mayor of Philadelphia in sixth paragraph.)

Feb. 5 (Bloomberg) -- The world’s 63 biggest cities have almost doubled the activities they undertake to reduce climate change since 2011, according to a report from the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.

“Mayors have real power to cut emissions and improve climate resilience, and they are taking action,” C40 chairman, Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes, said at the release of the report at the group’s Mayors Summit in Johannesburg today. “C40’s networks and efforts on measurement and reporting are accelerating city-led action at a transformative scale around the world.”

The cities have reported more than 8,000 climate actions that have been implemented, with 41 percent of these taking place citywide, according to the report, developed in partnership with consultancy firm, Arup.

With a growing awareness of climate change putting pressure on nations to reduce carbon emissions, the C40 is a group of mayors and senior officials from leading cities around the world that focus on climate-related actions that can be taken locally to help address climate change globally.

“If cities do not grip the issue of climate change, we will fail to address climate change,” Andrew Steer, president and CEO of World Resources Institute, said.

While leaders in national government often do not realize the effects and urgency of climate change, mayors realize it, Michael Nutter, Mayor of Philadelphia, said.

Cape Town

“We will have to drive national policy,” Nutter said. “On so many issues there is such gridlock at federal level that it must be driven at the local level and that is where most of these things happen.”

The C40 cities represent 600 million people worldwide, 5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and 21 percent of gross domestic product, according to the C40 website.

Cape Town, Dar es Salaam and Nairobi joined the group this week, according to a statement released today, bringing the total C40 membership to 66. Mayors and top officials from more than 45 cities are taking part in the summit, hosted for the first time in Africa.

The group plans to set up a City Director in the next two years to which cities can apply for staff resources to help with climate priorities. It will also ask the United Nations to to include a specific urban target among its sustainable development goals, Paes said.

“The job of a mayor is to represent the people at a local level and provide services where the public can see whether those services are good or bad,” Michael Bloomberg, President of the C40 Board said. “You’ve got to say ‘it’s your kid breathing the air who’s going to go to the hospital with an asthma attack, it’s your food prices that’s going to go up if we have a drought, it’s your house that’s going to get flooded out if that hurricane comes in this coming fall’.”

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--Editors: Antony Sguazzin, Gordon Bell