The Coalition for Urban Transitions was launched Thursday (May 5) at the Climate Action 2016 multi-stakeholder summit in Washington, DC. At a breakfast briefing organized by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and the Compact of Mayors, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced the Coalition as “the first major international initiative to make the economic case for better urban development globally,” with the aim of helping to achieve the Paris climate goals by making cities a focus of national economic planning, improving city access to financing for low-carbon infrastructure, and making the economic case for climate friendly urban growth, especially in developing countries.
Initiated by the New Climate Economy, the flagship project of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, along with C40 and the WRI Ross Centre for Sustainable Cities, the Coalition is a partnership of over 20 global financial and business institutions, think tanks, city officials, and urban planning experts that are committed to supporting national-level decision making that ensures climate action in cities is linked to broader economic planning.
“Cities are the key to achieving both the Sustainable Development Goals and the national climate commitments of the Paris Agreement. This Coalition will build the evidence base for policymakers on the solutions that can unlock the power of cities to support better development and a better climate,” noted Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa of Tshwane, South Africa, according to the C40 press release.
Beyond supporting global emission reductions, recent research by the New Climate Economy indicates that actions to reduce carbon emissions in urban areas are expected to produce a $17 trillion global economic opportunity by 2050, based on energy savings alone. Yet for cities to take steps to effectively reduce emissions, their national governments must empower them, for example, by eliminating outdated national laws preventing cities from utilizing local tax revenues or borrowing money on their own, or by removing national fossil-fuel subsidies that undermine urban incentives for public transit and clean energy.
One of the key goals of the Coalition for Urban Transitions is to encourage national governments to help cities accelerate emission reductions, and in turn help achieve the Paris climate goals. As many of the barriers to city level action lie in the hands of national leaders who are key components in shaping urban development, such as Ministers of Finance, Energy, Transportation, or Economy, the role of the Coalition will be to support decision-making on urbanization at the national level, linking city-level strategies with broader economic planning through economic research and in-country engagement. According to their website, “The Coalition will provide an independent, evidence based approach for thinking about ‘well managed’ urban transitions to ensure that the growth of urban areas, and the accompanying process of economic, social, and environmental transformation, maximizes benefits for people and the planet.”
Announcement of the Coalition at Climate Action 2016 comes just 2 weeks after more than 175 countries signed the Paris Agreement in NY and 8 months after the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. Climate Action 2016 seeks to make the broad-scale organization of climate action both more effective and sustainable, and provide a launching pad for climate implementation in the pre-2020 period. The event includes both high-level engagement with global luminaries, providing insight on how to meet climate commitments and embed the transformation agenda in government, key sectors, and society, and working groups sessions on near-term implementation actions and long-term implementation needs, particularly city and sub-national implementation, transport, land-use, energy, resilience/adaptation, and analysis and tools to support decision making.
(Image:Great to join Mayor @Anne_Hidalgo today and share progress & significance of local city #ClimateAction. Photo credit:Michael Bloomberg/Twitter)