Cities Get Major Lifts to Address Climate Change

Mayors from the largest 40 cities in the world are meeting to address climate change this week at the C40 Mayors Summit in São Paulo, Brazil.

C40 cities account for 8% of the global population, 12% of global GHG emissions and 21% of global GDP.

And they are getting a big boost on addressing climate change from multiple directions.

NYC Mayor Bloomberg, who heads C40 Cities, and former president Bill Clinton, who’s been helping cities address climate change through his Climate Initiative, are merging their separate initiatives into a single global effort focused on the world’s largest cities.

"We are putting a stake in the ground around the idea that national and international governments have failed, possibly quite permanently, or at least in a way that they will not make any serious progress before it’s too late," says Kevin Sheekey, a former deputy mayor of New York and principal political adviser to Mayor Bloomberg. "If you address the problems of the cities, there will be no need for China and India to sign onto some international accord. And thank God, because that’s not going to get done. It’s time to say it."

He adds, "This is much more than a few green roofs, but really cataloging the damage we’re doing to the climate in hard numbers and coming up with realistic plans and financing measures to mitigate it."

The Clinton-Bloomberg partnership could provide some relief at at a time when Congress refuses to act on climate change, and an international treaty seems unlikely. Donors that have been financing climate programs are frustrated and tired.

World Bank Partnership

At the conference, the C40 announced a partnership with the World Bank to help cities accelerate reductions in greenhouse gases (GHG) and become more resilient to climate change.

In particular, the agreement addresses structural issues that make it difficult for cities to finance climate initiatives.

Working together, they will establish a consistent climate action plans and strategies that enable large cities to work together on shared climate goals, while permitting potential investors to identify opportunities across cities.

A lack of a standard approach or process – such as exists for national government action plans – has made it difficult for investors and grantors to assess city action plans and thus has made them reluctant to fund projects.

The agreement also calls for a common approach to measuring and reporting on city GHG emissions, which will provide the quantitative information donors require.

Cities will be able to provide verifiable, consistent monitoring of emissions reductions and identify actions that result in the greatest emission reductions.

By December 1, 2011, the World Bank will establish a single, dedicated entry point for C40 cities to access its climate change-related capacity building and technical assistance programs, and climate finance initiatives.

They will also identify finance sources through the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

The World Bank has recently been taken to task for continuing its fossil fuel financing binge, evading environmental standards and worsening poverty and pollution.

Global Standard for City Climate Change Reporting

Working with ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability), the C40 will establish a global standard for accounting and reporting community-scale GHG emissions.

Using the standard, cities will have consistent, robust and comparable city GHG inventories, while making it easy for them to meet the needs of climate financing, national monitoring and reporting requirements.  The standard will be released by November, in time for UN Climate Summit  in Durban, South Africa.
A common platform will enable cities to accurately monitor their progress against emissions targets, facilitate robust climate action planning, and provide standard guidance as local governments pursue environmental review, inventory certification and other relevant policy making processes in their day-to-day operations. 

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