Environment

Global ‘covenant’ of cities tackles climate change

24/10/2016

 

Six months after the Paris Climate Change Conference, cities and local governments worldwide have joined forces in an unprecedented initiative to lead global climate action.

Cities are crucial to solving the climate change challenge: more than 70 % of Europeans and up to 80 % of the world’s wealth resides in them. However, they also account for the major share of carbon emissions, and because of the urban setting and concentration of people and economic assets, cities and towns are very vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Never before have so many cities joined forces, eager to inspire each other and committed to collectively taking the path to a low-carbon, resilient society.

European Commission Vice-President
Maroš Šefčovič

A combined effort of the EU’s Covenant of Mayors and the Compact of Mayors, the new Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy brings together strong advocates for a robust global agreement on climate action, as called for in COP21.

The Global Covenant spans more than 7100 cities from 119 countries across six continents, representing 600 million inhabitants. It enables authorities to set ambitious goals to promote sustainable development and ultimately achieve low-carbon, climate-resilient societies.

“Never before have so many cities joined forces, eager to inspire each other and committed to collectively taking the path to a low-carbon, resilient society,” said European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič.

Local incentives

Mayors have strong local incentives to deal with environmental issues, not least because cutting carbon emissions and enhancing climate resilience also improves public health and well-being, strengthens local economies, and reduces the costs of climate-related disasters. For instance, clean air has become increasingly important for business leaders deciding where to invest, with many firms now setting up in areas with green infrastructure and renewable energy sources.

Indeed, the Investment Plan for Europe, drawn up by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, prioritises forward-looking climate policies to facilitate the transition to a low-carbon, resilient, secure and competitive economy. The plan supports numerous local-lead initiatives to strengthen cities’ individual and collaborative efforts to tackle climate change.

“In Europe, the Covenant has managed to mobilise thousands of ambitious cities in outperforming their national governments’ targets. Its evolution into a global coalition with international accountability further paves the way towards a new age marked by locally rooted and inclusive climate policies,” said Bo Frank, mayor of Växjö in Sweden.

By sharing smart strategies, building collaboration and exchanging experiences, cities of all sizes on all continents are leading the way in addressing climate change.

Climate action