Summary for Urban Policymakers Calls on Cities to Align Strategies with 1.5°C Target
UN Photo/Kibae Park/Sipa Press
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The report details the ways in which all 1.5°C-consistent pathways require action in and by cities.

The open letter by city networks and associations issued to draw attention to the report calls on city, state and regional governments to take urgent action on climate change to keep global warming to below 1.5°C, reduce CO2 emissions to zero within 20 years, and reduce other pollutants, such as methane and black carbon.

10 December 2018: Following the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR15), the Global Covenant of Mayors and C40 Cities have published a Summary for Urban Policymakers in recognition of the impact and importance of mayors and local leaders in tackling climate change.

The report titled, ‘Summary for Urban Policymakers: What the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C Means for Cities,’ was developed by 18 SR15 lead authors, with input from city officials, with the aim of making science more accessible to urban policymakers to take action at the local level, and ensuring alignment of urban strategies with the target of keeping the global average temperature rise to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels. The report, which was launched on the sidelines of the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland, in December 2018, underscores the need for collaboration across all levels and sectors, and details the ways in which all 1.5°C-consistent pathways require action in and by cities. It reiterates that limiting warming to 1.5°C will require systems transitions in energy, industry, land use and ecosystems, and urban and infrastructure, all linked to SDG implementation. The report emphasizes that cities offer many of the most readily available, feasible and cost-effective options for these transitions.

The report underscores that cities concentrate opportunities to address many of the causes and impacts of climate change on a systemic level. It notes that city leaders can take action more quickly and that cities can more easily innovate scalable solutions than other government levels.

The report follows a C40 campaign to raise the profile of urban issues in the IPCC, and the convening of the Conference on Cities and Climate Change Science (CitiesIPCC Conference) held in Edmonton, Canada, in March 2018, and is an outcome of the Global Climate Action Accelerator, Innovate4Cities, which supports efforts to make science accessible and relevant to cities.

Without urgent action, achieving the SDGs and maintaining development progress will be difficult.

To further draw attention to the report, the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), city networks and associations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other international organizations working in and on cities have signed a letter, calling on city, state and regional governments to take urgent action on climate change to keep global warming to below 1.5°C, reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to zero within 20 years, and reduce other pollutants, such as methane and black carbon.

The letter identifies six areas where city, state and regional governments can focus their efforts to meet the 1.5°C target, namely: urban energy systems; buildings; transport and urban planning; green infrastructure; sustainable land use; and water management. It states that action in these areas will lead to co-benefits, such as improved public health and reduced air pollution, and underscores the need for all departments and levels of government to work in an integrated manner.

The letter calls on higher emitting cities, states and regions to focus on decarbonization and protecting infrastructure and economic assets from climatic changes, and on lower emitting cities, states and regions to recognize the human risks posed by climate change and implement strategies to improve climate resilience and limit emissions growth. The letter contends that without urgent action, achieving the SDGs and maintaining development progress will be difficult. [Summary for Urban Policymakers: What the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C Means for Cities] [C40 Press Release] [UN-Habitat Press Release] [ICLEI Press Release] [Open Letter]


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