UN Climate Action Summit: Cities taking action on climate change

23 September 2019

EUROCITIES members are climate leaders. Many cities have plans and targets aligned to limiting temperature rise to 1.5C, and often they are more ambitious than their national governments.

With 75% of Europeans living in urban areas, cities are at the core of climate action for mitigation and adaptation. Actions such as decarbonising heating and cooling, retrofitting buildings, increasing active mobility and low carbon transport, and developing adaptation and resilience plans for extreme weather events, among others, are all being implemented at city level. Cities are also taking action to facilitate behavioural changes that contribute to a more climate-friendly lifestyle.

This week, at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York, it is primarily national governments that are asked to raise their commitments and ambitions in line with meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. These include new initiatives that will support greater city level action. However, cities are already taking action.

In May 328 Mayors signed a letter ahead of the summit on the future of Europe on 9 May in Sibiu (RO), calling for EU member states to agree on an ambitious strategy for a carbon neutral Europe by 2050.

In addition, around 8,000 European local commitments made through the Global Covenant of Mayors is equivalent to reducing nearly 1.3 billion tons of CO2e emissions per year by 2030. Together, cities committed to the GCoM have the potential to achieve a cumulative reduction of 46 Gt CO2e by 2050, reaching a global average for 2.19 tons per capita.

Cities are also showing their commitment in other international frameworks, such as localisation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Helsinki recently became the first European city to submit a Voluntary Sustainable Development Report to the UN, and now a further 14 cities are set to use this week at the UN to follow suit.

The Climate Action Summit takes place just over two months ahead of COP 25 and should mobilise new resources for achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Cities are one of nine areas prioritised by the UN Secretary General that are recognised as having high potential towards.

Find out more on EUROCITIES thoughts on this topic here.


Alex Godson Eurocities Writer