Cities have the boldest plans to deliver a sustainable future

From Anne Hidalgo and others.

Sir, The next four years will be crucial in determining if the world can avoid the worst impacts of climate change. As America inaugurates a president who has cast doubt on global warming, European leaders are distracted by Brexit and the rise of populist movements and China adjusts to providing global leadership on climate change, it is now cities and businesses that are delivering the boldest ideas and most ambitious plans for a sustainable low-carbon future.

As political and business leaders meet in Davos, the message from city halls and boardrooms is clear. The urgency of the climate crisis and the economic potential of shifting towards a greener future are too well established to be rolled back by forces of isolationism at a national level.

The private sector is acting swiftly and seriously, with massive investments in the next generation of low-carbon technology. In 2015, global investments in renewable energy reached $286bn and for the first time, more than half of all added power generation capacity came from renewables. Mayors, too, have forged ahead with delivering and implementing climate change solutions. We understand the scale of the challenge ahead. The world’s megacities must peak emissions by 2020 and must cut per capita emissions from over 5 tonnes of carbon dioxide to around 3 tonnes by 2030.

The challenge is vast and it is urgent. To achieve the transformation needed will require $375bn of investment in sustainable infrastructure in cities, according to C40. Fortunately, our efforts to tackle climate change also present incredible opportunities. The projects that cut emissions, clean the air that we breathe and build low-carbon infrastructure will also improve public health, encourage social inclusion and create jobs.

Through networks like C40 and We Mean Business, city leaders and businesses are examining the data and committing to serious, science-based targets to reduce emissions and cut their environmental impact.

Cities are where the future happens first. It has been the same throughout history and it is true once again as we face the unprecedented threat of climate change. If we cannot rely on the leadership of nations in these crucial four years, then mayors, chief executives, scientists, entrepreneurs and citizens will bear the burden instead. The consequences of failure are too dire and the opportunities for us to succeed are simply too great.

Anne Hidalgo

Mayor of Paris and Chair of C40

Clover Moore

Lord Mayor of Sydney

Yuriko Koike

Governor of Tokyo

Patricia de Lille

Mayor of Cape Town

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