26 Nov 2015
City Rallies and Action for Climate

 On the weekend of 28-29 November 2015, thousands of people marched in over 2,300 cities and towns across the world calling on leaders to take measures at COP21  in Paris so as to avoid catastrophic climate change. The global People’s Climate March created the biggest climate march the world has ever seen, attracting over 785, 000. It is dedicated to those already at risk from climate change, for the future of our children and grandchildren, and for a world powered by clean, renewable energy. It was a call to all politicians to back communities that are building a better, safer and fairer future for all. It is appropriate that our cities are the venue for this march since many of them are at the forefront in innovating to tackle climate change.

Global Compact cities in action for Climate

Many Global Compact are taking leadership in the climate challenge, setting targets and enacting strategies.

For example, the City of Berlin has plans to become climate neutral by 2050, reducing CO2 emissions by 85%. This would mean that city emissions would drop from 21 million tons today to 4.4 million in 2050. Is this possible you may ask? Well the good news is that CO2 emissions in Berlin already declined by 27% in the period 1990 to 2010.

San Francisco is another UN Global Compact city leading the way with climate action.  The 2013 San Francisco Climate Action Strategy  aims to reduce emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. In order to achieve this the city will produce 100% of its electricity from renewables (currently only 17%) in 2050.

The business community in San Francisco has played a long-standing leading role in climate action through BC3, the Business Council on Climate Change. Initially established in 2005 as a Innovating-city trialing the Melbourne Model of cross-sectoral collaboration, BC3 now has more than 100 San Francisco-based organizations from the public, private, non-profit, and philanthropic sectors working on climate solutions that require cross-company or cross-sector collaboration.

The City of Oslo is setting ambitious climate actions in its 2015 Green Shift plan. Under this strategy Oslo will cut fossil fuel emissions in half by 2030 and become fossil fuel free by 2050.

The Ecuadorian capital, Quito has committed to reduce its carbon footprint as part of its actions for local and global sustainability. New Zealand leading city Rotorua is paving the way for cycling with its recently launched ‘green corridor’.

The Colombian cities of Bogotá and Medellín have climate action built into their integrated urban plans.

Medellín Director of Planning, Jorge Perez Jaramillo will be attending COP21 and says his city’s efforts with climate are “underpinned through Medellín´s Plan de Ordenamiento Territorial 2027, a general land use and long term plan, which proposes a compact, dense and sustainable city based upon the ecological structure, that promotes urban regenerations along the riversides, sustainable and safe mobility and more inclusive urban development”. Specific urban projects like Parques del Rio (River Parks), Circunvalar Garden (borders) and the integrated mobility system, are key factors for a more healthy, safe and sustainable city.

The Colombian capital has climate at the forefront of its city plan, Bogotá Humana. Under the administration of Mayor Gustavo Petro Urrego, a core component of the Humana plan relates to climate change adaptation and mitigation and city land use planning in the context of water conservation. See case study – Bogotá – mitigating and adapting to climate change.

This reflects an increasing focus on the environment and climate in urban development in Latin America and the Caribbean. For a number of Global Compact cities in Puerto Rico – BayamónMayagüez, Caguas and Comerío  – green strategies are central to new forms of local economic development as well as their social cohesion and environmental sustainability.

New Brazilian leading-level city, Maringá has a strong environmental focus will be attending COP21 with our Brazilian Country Contact Point, Rosane de Souza.

These cities, like many others, are responding to the wishes of the people for a greener, cleaner world. They are leading the way in the response to our collective global climate challenge.

City involvement with COP21 in Paris is critical.

Share your Climate Actions

In line with the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact, the Sustainable Development Goals and our focus on resilience, the Cities Programme encourages cities to promote targets and report action to reduce greenhouses gas emissions and increase resilience to a changing climate. Share your climate related actions so that they can be promoted them across the network. For all cities attending COP21, we look forward to hearing your reports.

Report: Dr Brendan Barrett – to contact: brendan.barrett@citiesprogramme.org