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54 cities on track to meet Paris Agreement climate targets

14 December 2020

by Sarah Wray

Over 50 of the world’s major cities are on track to keep global heating below 1.5°C, according to new analysis from climate action network C40 Cities.

C40’s research, which was presented at an event at Paris City Hall on Friday to mark five years since the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement, concludes that efforts by the 54 cities will prevent at least 1.9 gigatonnes of GHG emissions from being released into the atmosphere between 2020 and 2030 – equivalent to half the combined annual emissions of the EU’s 27 member states.

“The data confirms that when fully implemented, these climate action plans will protect residents, create jobs, address inequalities and tackle the global climate crisis,” C40 said.

Cities with climate action plans reviewed by C40’s Deadline 2020 programme and confirmed as having science-based targets consistent with the Paris Agreement goals include: Buenos Aires, Argentina; Melbourne, Australia; Curitiba, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and São Paulo, Brazil; Montreal and Vancouver Canada; Medellin, Colombia; Copenhagen, Denmark; Paris, France; Accra, Ghana; Milan, Italy; Guadalajara and Mexico City, Mexico; Amsterdam and Rotterdam, the Netherlands; Oslo, Norway; Lisbon; Portugal; Dakar, Senegal; Durban and Johannesburg, South Africa; Barcelona, Spain; Stockholm, Sweden; London, UK and Boston; Houston; Los Angeles; New York City; Portland; Seattle and Washington D.C., USA.

Plans and priorities

Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, said: “I was Chair of C40 Cities when Deadline 2020 was set, challenging global cities to set their own climate action plan that will protect residents, create green jobs, address inequality and build the future we want. Now, five years on from the Paris Climate Agreement, I am proud to see so many cities from all over the world launch their plans to keep global temperature rises below 1.5°C.

“This marks an important milestone in our efforts to accelerate climate action and demonstrates the incredible leadership from cities on this issue.”

Initiatives detailed in the climate plans reviewed by C40 include:

  • In Mexico City, more than 100km of public transport corridors and four new cable car lines will be open by 2024, providing better access to essential services for low-income communities
  • São Paulo will incentivise and prioritise local and organic food production
  • In Johannesburg, by 2030, all new public and private buildings will operate at net zero carbon
  • In Buenos Aires, 100,000 new trees will be planted by 2025
  • Milan will reallocate 100km of street space for cycling and walking by the end of 2021
  • Lisbon will multiply its production of solar energy by 50 by 2030

Giuseppe Sala, Mayor of Milan, commented: “To deliver on the goals of the Paris Agreement, we must deliver a green and just recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that creates a fair economy, cuts emissions and creates jobs.”

National targets

Michael Doust, programme director at C40, said the plans were a challenge to national governments to scale up their efforts and “collaborate with city leaders to tackle the escalating climate emergency”.

On Friday,  European Union leaders agreed to reduce greenhouse gases by 55 percent by 2030, rather than 40 percent – the Eurocities collaborative network had called for a new target of at least 60 percent. Earlier this month, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to cut emissions by 68 percent by 2030 based on 1990 levels. South Korea, Japan and China recently made carbon neutral commitments.

However, climate activist Greta Thunberg warned that these pledges risked creating a “sense of progress” but that “we are still speeding in the wrong direction.”

“Distant hypothetical targets are being set, and big speeches are being given,” she said in a new video. “Yet, when it comes to the immediate action we need, we are still in a state of complete denial, as we waste our time, creating new loopholes with empty words and creative accounting.”

She concluded her video saying: “There is hope … we are the hope – we, the people.

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My City, My Life

Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montréal

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