As the world searches for feasible climate solutions that have the potential to make a significant dent in greenhouse gas emissions, leaders are increasingly turning to mayors as the possible solution. With over 80% of the planet’s carbon budget already tied up in existing policies, the remaining 20% is the clearest opportunity for climate action–and cities are in the best position to act.
In a series of new reports issued by international climate think tanks, policy-makers and local leaders are being encouraged to take swift action to implement climate solutions. Municipalities and local governments are being targeted for a number of reasons. Cities represent a growing percentage of the world’s population, and therefore an increasing proportion of greenhouse gas emissions. They are also far more dynamic and quick moving, able to pass and implement climate action plans at a much greater pace than national and international actors.
Because of their unique position, cities are being asked to take steps that will make an impact on climate change, and enrich the lives of their residents. These may include:
- Public transportation improvements: investing in electric busses, bike lanes, and even car-sharing programs can decrease traffic congestion, decrease pollution, and increase urban mobility.
- Resource management: by investing in waste treatment, recycling, and water treatment infrastructure, cities can save money while making the best of new technologies that enable more sustainable living.
- Revisiting infrastructure: updating old buildings and increasing new construction standards to meet sustainability targets can put cities on the cutting edge of urban design. Such changes will make buildings more efficient, decreasing energy waste and demand, and save residents and businesses money.
Seth Schultz, Director of Research at C40, said it best: “cities are uniquely positioned to make a big impact now, and show the rest of the world that it’s possible: collaboration is possible, change is possible.” To make your city a part of this change, come check out Path to Positive Communities, and join with like-minded climate leaders.
Good news, at a time when news about climate change is so rarely good: Mayors and policymakers have the power to significantly reduce the threat of climate change through the infrastructure decisions they make in the next five years.
As a planet, we can only risk emitting 1000 gigatons (Gt) of C02 into the atmosphere this century. According to myriad studies, 80 percent of this “carbon budget” is already locked-in by past policy decisions and investments in inefficient, high-carbon infrastructure, like coal-fired power plants. The International Energy Agency predicts the world could lock in the rest of that budget, 200 Gt C02, by 2020.
But a new report by the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) and Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) points to a hopeful path for cities and their leaders.
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