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Climate Action 2011-2012

Cities of the Future

Cities of the Future sustainable Cities: special Focus Cities catalysing global climate action © Matt-80 The challenges of continued urbanisation are global. More people now live in cities than in rural areas. The recognition of local and subnational governments as governmental stakeholders in the agreement of the Cancun climate conference in 2010 (COP16) therefore marks a historical opportunity to mobilise the full potential of local and subnational action on climate mitigation and adaptation – a potential which has not been appropriately exploited in the first 20 years of the international climate regime. The Local Government Climate Roadmap, the coalition for global climate advocacy of local governments since Bali 2007 (COP13), now aims to ensure that this recognition is fully reflected into practice. For one thing, progress towards low-carbon solutions at the local level has in many instances been greater than on a national scale. Through an enabling global framework for action, supported by access to muchneeded financial and technical resources, local governments can provide significant contributions to scale up action at the national and international level. 158 By Yunus Arikan, Manager, Cities Climate Center, Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) Engaging local governments as ‘governmental stakeholders’ is the key to ensure success in addressing the global challenge on climate change. In the first decade of the 21st century the world’s urban population has exceeded the rural population for the first time. This trend is set to continue in the forthcoming decades. The urban structures we have built in the past 4,000 years have to be built again in the next 40 years to meet the challenges of continued urbanisation, and to match the demographic and consumption/production patterns, particularly in developing countries. Our choices in planning cities will determine whether cities will be a part of the problem or the solution of our climate challenges. The choices are complex: constructing buildings and transport infrastructure, using energy, consuming goods and managing waste. Keeping the temperature increase within 2ºC by the end of the century, compared with the global average in the past 200 years, will depend on the success of implementing low-carbon, climateresilient, sustainable urban development patterns in both developed and developing countries. However, so far neither the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) nor its Kyoto Protocol contains any vision for action at the level of local government. Raising ambitions So everyone needs to raise their ambitions. In 2009, the Copenhagen World Catalogue of Local Climate Commitments announced more than 3,000 obligations by local governments worldwide for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. Numerous cities in both developed and developing countries are determined to ensure carbon neutrality or the transition to 100 per cent renewables, exceeding existing commitments of national governments at the UNFCCC level. If local commitments are appropriately integrated into national commitments, it is possible to be more confident of reaching the goals proposed by the scientific community. Numerous cities in both developed and developing countries are determined to ensure carbon neutrality. Despite the lack of progress in global climate negotiations in 2010, local governments have further advanced their contribution to global efforts. They have introduced the Global Cities Covenant on Climate – the Mexico City Pact, a political commitment of local governments to advance climate action. They have also introduced the carbonn Cities Climate Registry (cCCR) as their concrete response to measurable, reportable, verifiable climate action. Both of these efforts aim to ensure transparency, accountability and

comparability of local climate action, so that the necessary resources can be rapidly mobilised. Through the cCCR, local governments worldwide are now able to report their reduction commitments, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions performance and mitigation/adaptation actions that have been implemented. The Registry is helping local governments to achieve transparency and accountability of local climate actions, demonstrate leadership and initiate a process to support direct access to global climate funds. At the same time national governments and the global climate community benefit by gaining a better understanding of the achievements, performance and ambitions of local climate action. The Mexico City Pact and the cCCR are, therefore, vital elements in informing policy-making and can contribute to formulating appropriate global climate policies which also incorporate involvement of local governments. Low-hanging FRuit stiLL untasted Furthermore, developing an appropriate global governance model and generating adequate financial resources are key to the success for local climate action. So far, the finance architecture under the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol has not fully met the expectations of local governments. As of 2009, less than 10 per cent of all projects under the Clean Development Mechanism are engaging local governments. The global climate community should not miss the opportunity to build upon the power, potential and ambitions of local climate action, in particular in the absence of global political leadership and determination. The ICLEI Global Report Cities in a post-2012 Climate Policy Framework describes the huge potential in sectors such as buildings, waste and transport, which are defined as the ‘lowhanging fruit’ of mitigation, and are under direct control of local governments. Since the rules and legislative frameworks that create and regulate carbon markets have not been designed with urban mitigation projects in mind, various legal, technical and financial barriers to offset markets often appear to be insurmountable for urban projects, as pointed out in the OECD’s Cities and Carbon Market Finance (2010). It is expected that the Durban climate change conference in 2011 (COP17) will primarily focus on the institutional framework of the global climate regime. Local governments are hoping that new institutions and mechanisms focusing on climate finance should not repeat the same mistakes of ignoring the local realities and demands. In terms of adaptation financing, the ICLEI white paper Financing the Resilient City makes the case for priority to be given to: • New adaptation and resilience standards, similar to recent ‘green building’ standards that have been mainstreamed into urban development and construction over the last decade; • Specialised financial instruments, for comprehensive local adaptation and resilience upgrading projects in urban areas and systems known to be highly vulnerable; • Building additional local institutional capacity, to prepare, structure and manage large scale redevelopment. LoCaL-FRiendLy Funding needed It is also expected that funds should be channelled to locally relevant and appropriate development, rather than conventional global financing mechanisms determining which local projects are eligible for funding. Sustainable and resilient urban development that prioritises climate change adaptation, poverty alleviation and improved human well-being needs to be defined as a thematic window in the design of the Green Climate Fund under the UNFCCC: an aspect that has also been called for in the 2011 Bonn Declaration of Mayors. The global climate community should not miss the opportunity to build upon the power, potential and ambitions of local climate action, in particular in the absence of global political leadership and determination. When local governments are not only being recognised but also supported as key actors in climate action – and thus granted an enabling framework in combination with better, directaccess funding – cities can accelerate their performance. They will evolve from key actors into highly effective catalysts in the battle against climate change. Yunus Arikan is Manager of the Cities Climate Center, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, Director of the Secretariat of the World Mayors Council on Climate Change (WMCCC) and the Focal Point for the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) constituency to the UNFCCC. ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability is an association of over 1,220 local government members who are committed to sustainable development. The members come from 70 different countries and represent more than 569,885,000 people. ICLEI is an international association of local governments as well as national and regional local government organisations who have made a commitment to sustainable development. It provides technical consulting, training and information services to build capacity, share knowledge and support local government in the implementation of sustainable development at the local level. ICLEI’s basic premise is that locally designed initiatives can provide an effective and cost-efficient way to achieve local, national, and global sustainability objectives. ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability Kaiser-Friedrich-Str. 7, 53113 Bonn, Germany Tel: +49 (0)228 976299 00 | Email: Web:; 159