24 October 2019
C40 Mayors Summit Accelerates Cities’ Climate Action through Low-carbon Food, Clean Air Initiatives
Photo credit: Maid Milinkic
story highlights

Fourteen cities committed to the ‘C40 Good Food Cities Declaration,’ through which mayors commit to work with their citizens to achieve a ‘Planetary Health Diet’ by 2030.

Thirty-five mayors signed the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration, which commits cities to set ambitious pollution reduction targets.

Thirty of the world’s largest cities have peaked their emissions in line with limiting temperature rise to below 1.5°C.

12 October 2019: The C40 Mayors Summit has concluded with a number of initiative launches and announcements to further accelerate and scale up climate action by cities, including the ‘C40 Good Food Cities Declaration,’ the ‘C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration,’ and the launches of the ‘C40 Cities Knowledge Hub’ and the ‘City-Business Climate Alliance.’

Fourteen cities committed to the C40 Good Food Cities Declaration, through which mayors commit to work with their citizens to achieve a ‘Planetary Health Diet’ by 2030, with balanced and nutritious food “reflective of the culture, geography, and demography of their citizens.” Mayors will introduce policies that make healthy, delicious and low-carbon food affordable and accessible, and reduce food loss and waste.­ Sustainable diets and avoiding food waste could cut emissions from food by more than 60%, and the Planetary Health Diet could save 11 million lives annually, while reducing emissions. In the Declaration, cities commit to, inter alia: align food procurement policies to the Planetary Health Diet; reduce food loss and waste by 50% from 2015 figures; and work with stakeholders to develop a strategy for implementing measures, achieving goals, and incorporating the strategy into climate action plans.

Thirty-five mayors signed the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration, which commits cities to: set ambitious pollution reduction targets within two years that meet or exceed national commitments; implement clean air policies by 2025 that address causes of pollution in the cities; meet World Health Organization’s (WHO) Air Quality Guidelines by 2030; continually reduce their cities’ emissions and advocate for reducing regional emissions; and publicly report on progress. Mayors could achieve these goals by, among other actions: expanding low- or zero-carbon public transport; creating zero-emission zones; requiring cleaner fuels for heating and cooking; enhancing incentives and infrastructure to support walking and cycling; and establishing city-wide air quality monitoring. The Declaration also calls on national governments and businesses to match this commitment. If the 35 signatories reduce annual average fine particulate matter (PM2.5) levels in line with the WHO Guidelines, a C40 press release notes, 40,000 deaths could be avoided annually.

The Summit included the launch of the C40 Cities Knowledge Hub, an online platform providing cities with information to drive climate action at greater speed and scale, which brings together practical experiences and successful approaches taken by cities for knowledge sharing and collaboration. Marking “the first time” that knowledge from cities will be available in one place, the Hub will provide access to policy briefs, technical guidance, the latest data and research, and case studies. A C40 press release notes that 30% of climate action in cities has involved direct cooperation with other cities.

The City-Business Climate Alliance was announced at the Cities and Business Forum on the sidelines of the Summit. The Alliance will enable mayors and CEOs to collaborate to translate global climate commitments into practical actions that work in cities. The Alliance builds on the experience of the London Business Climate Leaders, an initiative focused on clean energy, sustainable buildings, clean transport, waste and circular economy.

Addressing the Summit, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said cities consume more than two-thirds of the world’s energy and account for more than 70% of global emissions. He asked C40 cities to lead in the following areas: aligning procurement, infrastructure development, zoning, urban planning, building codes, transport systems, waste disposal and investments with the Paris Agreement on climate change, the New Urban Agenda (NUA) and the SDGs; strengthening national climate action plans and accelerating their implementation; promoting new investment and finance opportunities, such as issuing green bonds, reforming property taxes to reduce urban sprawl and leveraging collaboration with the private sector to promote investments in climate-friendly urban development; and ensuring a just transition to low-emission, climate-resilient societies.

The Summit also announced that 30 of the world’s largest cities have peaked their emissions, with Austin (US), Athens (Greece), Lisbon (Portugal) and Venice (Italy) being the latest to join the list. Since reaching peak levels, these cities have reduced their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by an average of 22%, with Copenhagen (Denmark) reducing its emissions by up to 61%. Half of all C40 cities have either already reached peak emissions, are projected to achieve peak emissions by 2020 or have committed to peak emissions.

C40, a network of 94 of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change, supports cities to collaborate effectively, share knowledge and drive meaningful, measurable and sustainable action on climate change. In a press release, the Network highlights examples of progress made by C40 cities over the past ten years, including:

  • 82 cities have implemented cycle hire schemes, compared to 13 in 2009;
  • more than 66,000 electric buses are on cities’ streets, compared to fewer than 100 in 2009;
  • 24 cities have committed to achieving 100% renewable electricity by 2030, compared to four in 2009;
  • 18 cities have banned or restricted single-use, non-recyclable plastics, compared to two in 2009; and
  • 17 cities have restrictions on high-polluting vehicles, compared to three in 2009.

The C40 Mayors Summit took place in Copenhagen from 9-12 October 2019. [UN Press Release] [C40 World Mayors Summit Homepage] [C40 World Mayors Summit Agenda] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story Referring to Cities Peaking Emissions]  

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