COP22: Cities as key players in the fight against climate change?

Cities are one of the big emitters of CO2. Why do not collaborate to make cities more sustainable?

With the continuous growing of the population and the continuous process of migration to the cities from rural environment, the cities have to assumed the growth of infrastructures why do not doing in a sustainable way and try to protect the world controlling C02 emissions. Taking into account that cities are one of the biggest emitters of C02, responsible for over 20% of global GHG emissions.

This month the 22nd Annual Conference of the parties (COP22) included on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held in Marrakech, to continue the path started in Paris. Companies, investors, cities and regions announce new commitments in support of the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement central aim was to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

This year COP22 celebrate the day of cities and human settlements that have been organised to inspire, structure, and showcase climate action in the field of resilience in cities and buildings. The milestone achievements in 2015 have important implications for cities and human settlements. These include for example the Sendai Framework, Paris Climate Agreement, 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including SDG:11 focusing on cities and human settlements, and the Addis Ababa Agenda for Financing Development 1

In COP21 cities won landmark recognition and in Marrakech, they expect to turn that urgency into action. Cities, which made a strong case in Paris, they are uniquely equipped to address climate change, anticipate the talks will further solidify and detail their role in responding to climate change, as formally recognised in the Paris Agreement.2

“The early entry into force of the Paris Agreement is a wonderful breakthrough for all non-state actors committed to act against climate change,” said Emmanuelle Pinault, head of city diplomacy for the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. “It shows that nations were serious with their commitment last year and have at least understood the urgency to act.”

With this sentence, Pinault make clear how cities can be the motor that pushes away the climate change and how cities with support of their citizens and government can help to reach these goals and it the end protect and fix our world

“No country will be able to reach its climate goals without significant help from its cities,” said Steve Hammer, climate specialist for the World Bank. “Cities are the most important factor in the climate equation, and need additional tools and support to put them on a sustainable, resilient, low-carbon path.” Demonstrating us how these is a common opinion between the people that participate in the conference held in Marrakech.

One goal of in COP22 is to ensure that cities are fully integrated into the implementation of Paris Agreement. “In Marrakech, the focus was on how to implement the Paris agreement, and bring national and local governments together to tackle what is likely the most enormous challenge in our lifetime.” said Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez, senior director for the World Bank’s Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice.

City advocates insist that whatever agreement nation-states reach, political actors at the local level are poised to go beyond these targets and to do so more quickly. For example, cities can boost action immediately, rather than waiting until 2020, the first year when national governments are expected to deliver on their COP 21 commitments. Further, mobilizing cities to do this could help countries get an important jump-start on fulfilling those pledges.

Besides cities are already acting on climate change making their cities and municipalities more sustainable through initiatives in areas like low-carbon developments and green infrastructure. So why cannot be cities the motor to fight against the climate change?

Furthermore, over 500 cities are now reporting to the Carbon Climate Registry (cCR), letting us know how cities are now committing to measurable, reportable and verifiable actions. 3

Cities have anticipated working closely with their national counterparts to guide the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Supporters for urban-level action argue that cities are home to the majority of the world’s population and the increase in global greenhouse-gas emissions.

Effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will rely closely on our ability to transition to a green economy; these themes have been taking into account in the Conference held in Marrakech .

With this budget why not destine some part to make cities more sustainable? Why not engage and encourage the governments to make their cities more sustainable, more resilient? And the most important question, why do not inspired us to help our cities and our world.

COP22 may help with the technical question of how to integrate the system with existing infrastructure, the financial question of how to raise capital, the economic question of how to engage with local businesses. None of the solutions to climate change come from a single actor, and that is why cities are powerful assemblies for creating coalitions that address climate change. COP22 is a great opportunity to discover new initiatives, a fundraising opportunity and a way to raise awareness in the world

The Conference held in Marrakech has been essential to identify obstacles and encourage investment and how in this conference different countries and organizations shows different initiatives and “tools” to get financial and economic support.

There are several initiatives launched in COP21 that are continuing in this COP22 like the Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GABC) and The Covenant of Mayors for climate and energy heralded as the “world’s biggest urban climate and energy initiative” through the can help or the initiative C40 cities. The World Bank is a huge backer of initiatives and tools that help cities reaching their Climate Goals.

Smart Cities can be a good example on how to push these changes supported by technology. Because smart city is not only about technology, it is about having leaders, businesses, and citizens make smart, informed decisions.

As a conclusion cities and what is more important us as citizens can be the motor of the fight against climate change.

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Lara Sastre-Estévez de la Torre

 

1. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (2016). Cities & human settlements (resilience in cities). [online] Available at: http://climateaction.unfccc.int/event-calendar/events/cop22-gca-cities-human-settlements-resilience-in-cities/ [Accessed 30 Nov. 2016].

2.Citiscope. (2016). Cities seek to build on enhanced role as global climate talks turn to implementation. [online] Available at: http://citiscope.org/habitatIII/news/2016/11/cities-seek-build-enhanced-role-global-climate-talks-turn-implementation  [Accessed 30 Nov. 2016].

3. Cityscope. (2016). Cities can lead climate action head 2020 pledges. [online] Available at: http://citiscope.org/habitatIII/commentary/2015/07/cities-can-lead-climate-action-ahead-2020-pledges [Accessed 30 Nov. 2016].

SOURCES

Change, U. (2016). United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. [online] Unfccc.int. Available at: http://unfccc.int/2860.php  [Accessed 30 Nov. 2016].

Citiscope.org. (2016). Citiscope | Spreading urban innovation. [online] Available at: http://citiscope.org  [Accessed 30 Nov. 2016].

Cop22.org. (2016). COP22 Marrakech Morocco – Sustainable Innovation Forum in partnership with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) | COP22 Marrakech. [online] Available at: http://www.cop22.org/  [Accessed 30 Nov. 2016].

World Bank. (2016). COP 22: Three New Ways to Help Cities Reach Their Climate Goals. [online] Available at: http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2016/11/28/cop-22-three-new-ways-to-help-cities-reach-their-climate-goals  [Accessed 30 Nov. 2016].

Desarrollo Sostenible. (2016). Portada – Desarrollo Sostenible. [online] Available at: http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/es/  [Accessed 30 Nov. 2016].

Sustainablecitiesinstitute.org. (2016). [online] Available at: http://www.sustainablecitiesinstitute.org/  [Accessed 30 Nov. 2016].

Wri.org. (2016). Why Cities are the Solution to Climate Change: Q&A with Ani Dasgupta | World Resources Institute. [online] Available at: http://www.wri.org/blog/2015/01/why-cities-are-solution-climate-change-qa-ani-dasgupta  [Accessed 30 Nov. 2016].


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