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Cities urged to take bold action on climate change

Cities are on the frontline of climate change but are also in a unique position to take action

City leaders can take action on climate quicker than other levels of government
City leaders can take action on climate quicker than other levels of government

Cities must act now to prevent catastrophic climate change is the message from the authors of a summary of key findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, launched at the COP24 climate negotiations in Poland. The summary also says cities “offer a unique opportunity” to limit global temperature rise.


Published earlier this year, the report spells how allowing global temperature rise to exceed 1.5°C will disrupt basic social and economic activities around the world with the most extreme consequences for much of the population in the Global South.


Cities’ key role in climate action


The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy and C40 Cities, which connects 96 global cities to take bold climate action, convened 18 authors from the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C to develop the Summary for Urban Policymakers with input from city officials.


As global population and economic centres, cities are key to delivering a 1.5°C future and the Summary for Urban Policymakers aims to be an indispensable tool for city officials and decision-makers. How the world’s cities develop in the years ahead will have a major impact on global efforts to curb global temperature rise and prepare for the effects of climate change already underway in a warming world.

"Cities are ready to lead on the transformations necessary to secure the future that we want, the future we can trust”

“For more than a decade now, mayors of the world’s great cities have been the loudest voices calling for bold and urgent climate action, because we are conscious of the threat it poses to our citizens,” said Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, chair of C40 Cities and board member of the Global Covenant of Mayors.


She added: “We have committed to deliver on the 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement because it is clear this offers the best hope of securing a healthy, prosperous and sustainable future for all citizens around the globe. Cities are ready to lead on the transformations necessary to secure the future that we want, the future we can trust.”


The report details how all 1.5°C-consistent pathways require action in and by cities, because:

  • they concentrate opportunities to address many of the causes and impacts of climate change on a systemic level;
  • city leaders can take action faster than other levels of government;
  • they can more easily innovate scalable solutions than other levels of government.

The report also finds that collaboration across all levels and sectors is the key: to change the trajectory of global temperature increases, we have to act now and together across all levels – locally, regionally, nationally, and globally.


This report follows a campaign launched by C40 and partners in 2016 to raise the profile of urban issues in the IPCC, and follows the successful Conference on Cities and Climate Change Science held in Edmonton in March 2018. It responds to the Edmonton Declaration, through which cities challenged the academic and business community to support city climate science & innovation.


It is also an initial outcome of GCoM’s Global Climate Action Accelerator, Innovate4Cities, which supports leading scientists, local officials, and NGOs working together to make science accessible and relevant to cities.


"Cities are on the front lines of climate change, but they also are uniquely positioned to lower emissions,” said Michael R Bloomberg, co-chair of GCoM and UN Special Envoy for Climate Action. “Mayors around the world are eager to lead, and this report will help them take action.”


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