COP 22 – The Marrakech Climate Change Conference of Action
Contributed by Mark Atherton
As the world came together to swiftly sign and ratify the Paris Agreement, cities and local governments were already working to deliver on ambitious global and local climate goals. To continue to harness the power of cities and local governments, it is vital that local leaders continue to play a role in turning agreement into action, just as they did in advocating for and supporting national and global leaders to deliver on the ground-breaking agreement at the COP21 last year in Paris.
While cities are the source of the majority of global emissions and are heavily vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, we are also the solution. Our local leaders are uniquely positioned to tackle climate change, reduce emissions and enhance climate resilience. Local leaders are less hampered by politics than many nation-states, are able to act more flexibly, and are more directly responsible to their constituents as they develop efforts to advance low-carbon and climate-resilient futures.
The implementation of the Paris Agreement represents a pivotal moment for city and local government climate action and for local leaders as drivers of change. Cities and local governments are already demonstrating their impact on climate change and their commitment to increasing resilience to its impact, yet we cannot address this problem alone. Global and national leaders must continue to support ambitious climate action at every level, and empower cities to realize their sustainable urban development and climate goals.
The Global Impact of the Compact of Mayors
Fact: Cities innovate faster and can achieve more when they collaborate. Through the Compact of Mayors, and soon through the newly integrated Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, cities are working collectively across borders to mitigate and adapt to the rising threats of climate change and track their progress transparently. As a result, cities are able to demonstrate their collective impact on a global scale.
604 cities, including Greater Manchester, are now committed to the Compact of Mayors and with these commitments, cities are pledging to measure and track their climate risk and GHG emissions, set ambitious targets to reduce them, and establish data-based plans to meet those targets. While many of these targets “match” those that national governments will make through their “Nationally Determined Contributions” or “NDCs,” others are setting much more ambitious targets now.
Through the commitments they have already made voluntarily, Compact of Mayors cities are delivering on the goals of the Paris Agreement. The potential of existing commitments made by Compact of Mayors cities are equivalent to reductions of nearly 1 billion tons of CO2e emissions annually by 2030 (or 11.6 billion tons cumulatively between 2010 and 2030). This represents 26% of what we know is possible globally through direct city action – and even more would be possible when cities partner with other levels of government and the private sector.
Over 50 cities representing more than 100 million people are already fully compliant with the Compact of Mayors – meaning they have all their planning steps and are now actively working towards implementation and annually monitoring of progress. By 2030, these cities alone could collectively avoid emitting 225 million tons of emissions per year from a business-as-usual scenario.
Greater Manchester is proud to be one of the 50 ‘fully compliant’ cities with our newly launched Climate Change and Low Emissions Implementation Plan. The region’s plan outlines a low carbon pathway to 2020, detailing progress and required action to meet the challenging target of a 48% reduction in carbon from a 2013 baseline.
The aggregate impact of cities reducing emissions has the potential to be equal in scale to some of the world’s largest actors and economies. By 2030, Compact of Mayors cities could avoid more than 2.5 times the total reduction plans for the entire country of Canada.
Now there’s food for thought…
Mark joined AGMA in May 2012 as Director of Environment for Greater Manchester. In this role, Mark provides strategic support to the Greater Manchester Low Carbon Hub by leading the development and delivery of business plans and investment frameworks for environment and low carbon projects & programmes, plus research & public policy development.