During COP26, world leaders updated their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs); reflecting on their highest ambitions at the moment to limiting global warming at 1.5 degrees. However, even before negotiations started, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres revealed at the World Leaders Summit that the past 6 years since Paris Agreement’s establishment has actually been the “6 hottest years on record” (enter link to World Leaders Summit article) and he urged leaders to revive their action plans and strategies to urgently cut greenhouse gas emissions.

In fact, COP26 dedicated one day called the Events on Cities, Regions, and Built Environment to bring together national, regional and city level leaders in the spirit of deep collaboration to accelerating climate action over the next decade. It was also an opportunity to enhancing the role of private sectors such like businesses to work together with national and local governments, strongly declaring that vertical integration, collaboration of all levels of governments and other sectors is vital not only for emissions mitigation, but to also build and support resilient communities.

In the same spirit, The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy or GCoM is the largest city alliance that brings together city leaders that have committed to curbing the impacts of climate change, such as providing clean and affordable energy to citizens, protecting vulnerable communities, and many more to secure a low-emission and climate-resilient future. This is an all-encompassing effort to ensure a fair and quick clean energy transition, which is in line with one of the most important negotiation outcomes of COP26, which is the phasing-down of coal. Through commitment, leadership and implementing tangible actions in their communities, GCoM cities and local governments are truly embracing or “walking the talk”, thus moving further and faster to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Highlighting the above urgent situation, GCoM Secretariat was initiating the side event using the theme “GCoM Supporting Cities to Go Further and Faster in Acting Locally for a Climate-Resilient Future at COP26” on 9 November 2021 which took place in the Multilevel Action Pavilion. This side event aimed to showcase best practices of cities that have been moving from ambition to action, and to reveal some important analysis of GCoM’s released report; Further and Faster – local climate action and the role of the Global Covenant of Mayors.

Andy Deacon as GCoM Acting Managing Director revealed that three-quarters of GCoM cities or signatories have set more ambitious GHG reduction targets than their national governments and half are accelerating the rate in which they aim to reduce their emissions. “…by 76.5 GtCO2e by 2050 which is equivalent to removing 16 billion cars off the road for one year,” said Deacon. Adaptation is also now the goal of these cities with more than 4,000 active actions implemented in the vision of protecting citizens, infrastructure and other assets to immediate climate impacts, which will eventually increase a city’s resilience.

However, there are still gaps that need to be addressed according to the report, with buildings, transport and also waste contributing most to emissions, especially in low middle-income countries. As a result, Paula Kirk as Cities, Energy and Climate Change team lead at Arup plus collaborator on the report echoed the same hurdles heard throughout the 2-week conference, which is more regulatory power and better access to finance for local governments. “Cities are only receiving an estimated 7% of the $4.5-5.4 trillion per year that is required to fully realise the pipeline of city climate actions,” she said. 

This was agreed by Echart Würzner, Mayor of Heidelberg, who admitted how cities can achieve national and global targets much easier and faster when local governments are capacitated to access funding and have more decision-making power, particularly in the green energy sector. Lord Mayor Anna Reynolds explained the same context in Hobart, the capital of Tasmania that the energy or transport sector is not under the mandate of Australians local governments and could deliver so much more in terms of both emissions and climate action and adaptation. In fact, local governments in Australia only receive 3.7% in tax revenue which makes her concern as they are responsible for maintaining and managing 35% of public infrastructure. This is the opposite of Heidelberg, where the Germany city government owns the energy utility, thus having more “political power” to invest in a long-distance green heating system for half of the downtown area. 

Therefore, a poll was utilized during the session to ask participants on the one word that could further local governments to act locally and achieve the ambitions possible at the local level. “Collaboration” was the winner, and cities like Merida in Mexico and Baguio in the Philippines attested to that. Partnerships enabled Mérida to build 70km of bicycle lanes made out of recycled material, power 99 public buildings with solar panels and convert 50% of public lighting to geothermal energy. Meanwhile, being most vulnerable to floods, Baguio city contributed to building resilience through the implementation of a rapid early warning system, converted an informal dump site into a public park and is soon releasing its electric buses. 

In regards to collaboration, the GCoM Global Secretariat, as represented by Piero Remitti revealed that GCoM is planning to support cities even further in achieving their ambitions with future matchmaking events, similarly for other regional offices such as The Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA).


By KM Team

Source: https://hopin.com/cal/zqagkOl3qFVAhbg1643kTiJwn