Cities Take the Stage at the Global Climate Action Summit

Climate action has taken on a new urgency, and people across the world and across sectors are ready to “Take Ambition to the Next Level.” This was especially clear at the Global Climate Action Summit held in San Francisco, September 12–14, where climate leaders and people worldwide gathered to celebrate extraordinary achievements of states, regions, cities, companies, investors and citizens with respect to climate action.

Throughout this impactful event, we aimed to shine a spotlight on the contributions of city leaders and announced new initiatives and tools to support cities’ efforts to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change, fulfilling their commitments and achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.

In partnership with C40 Cities and the NewClimate Institute, we released a new research, “Climate Opportunity: More Jobs; Better Health; Liveable Cities,” showing that ambitious urban climate policies can not only reduce carbon emissions globally but also effectively deliver enormous economic and public health benefits for cities. The report estimates that by 2030, a boost in urban climate action can prevent approximately 1.3 million premature deaths per year, net generate 13.7 million jobs in cities, and save 40 billion hours of commuters’ time plus billions of dollars in reduced household expenses each year.

Along with the report, the Opportunity 2030 dashboard was launched on our website to allow cities to interactively compare scenarios and explore the impacts of energy efficiency retrofit in residential buildings, enhanced bus networks and services, and district-scale renewable energy in major global regions.

To kick off the summit, we partnered with C40 and the City of San Francisco to present “Cities4Climate: The Future is Us.”

Cities4Climate emphasized the innovative work cities are doing to improve air quality and build healthier, more resilient and equitable communities, and featured dynamic keynotes and panels with mayors, business leaders, changemakers, tech entrepreneurs and climate experts from around the world.

To further illustrate the potential of urban climate action, we released our 2018 Global Aggregation Impact Report, showing that the 9,149 committed cities, representing 780,804,596 people worldwide and 10.23% of the total global population, have already made commitments that, if fully implemented, could achieve annual reductions of 1.4 Gt CO2e in 2030 and 2.8 Gt CO2e in 2050 from BAU (business-as-usual level, based on population growth). The reductions in 2030 would be equivalent to the emissions of taking all the cars in the United States off the road for one year.

While cities are at the forefront of climate action, there are many, especially small and mid-sized cities, that lack the resources — financial and capacity — to complete all activities required to develop and implement comprehensive climate action plan.

To support cities in fulfilling ambitious climate commitments, we announced a new global framework for reporting city greenhouse gas emissions inventories that will go into effect as of January 1, 2019. As voiced through the Edmonton Declaration, cities need science-based climate action, and by harmonizing city climate data reporting and making data available in open platforms for cities to learn from each other, cities will not only be able to quantify and compare their results, but will also for the first time use an approach for quantifying their impact that is consistent with that of national governments.

The Global Covenant of Mayors and Google proudly launched a beta version of the Environmental Insights Explorer, new tool that will provide cities with instant access to greenhouse gas emissions data, allowing local governments to develop data-based climate action plans and facilitate urban climate action based on science and evidence.

The platform combines data and the unique analytical capabilities of Google with GCoM’s global network of cities and mayors to bring critical information to cities on their environmental health. Mayors had the opportunity to visit the Google Mountain View campus for a first-hand experience with the Environmental Insights Explorer.

The tool is the beginning of a new long-term partnership between GCoM, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Google announced during the One Planet Summit on September 26 in New York, showing the potential for collaboration between the private sector and local governments.

To further our #Invest4Cities initiative we launched the Global Climate City Challenge with the European Investment Bank, a new global initiative to address key technical and financing barriers to strengthen investment in green projects and programmes essential to improve resilience to a changing climate in cities, especially for cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The pilot phase will select projects in an initial six cities to benefit from the Global Climate City Challenge.

More than ever, global cities are dedicated to their commitments and determined to achieve their goals. The One Planet Charter — a joint initiative driven together with C40 and ICLEI — highlights more than 815 cities who have made commitments to build sustainable and resilient infrastructure, leading to the creation of decarbonized, sustainable, inclusive society and future. These ambitious city commitments demonstrate for national government that we all can and need to step up our action if we want to reach the Paris Agreement goals and preserve our planet for generations to come.

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