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Year in Review 2014: Cities Take Center Stage in Global Climate Conversation

2014 saw cities take their place as major players in the global fight against climate change, widely recognized as a critical part of the solution and, particularly, as key partners to nations working to forge a new universal climate agreement in Paris 2015.

For C40, this year’s highlights include the addition of seven new member cities, several groundbreaking research reports, successful international events, and thriving global partnerships – all of which are helping cities make real contributions to the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks.

We kicked off the year with the C40 Mayors Summit in Johannesburg, wheremayors and city officials came together for three days to share successes, exchange ideas and collaborate on urban solutions. During the Summit – which was also the debut for our new Chair Mayor Eduardo Paes of Rio de Janeiro – we released Climate Action in Megacities 2.0, the second installment of our seminal research series that catalogues and analyzes climate action in C40 cities.

At the Summit, we also announced the expansion of our membership to includethree new African cities: Cape Town, Dar es Salaam and Nairobi. Later in the year, we also welcomed Boston, Chinese cities Shenzhen and Wuhan, and most recentlyTshwane in South Africa, bringing our total membership to 70 megacities.

September marked the highly-anticipated UN Climate Summit during Climate Week in New York City, where heads of state and local government leaders from around the world convened to advance international action on climate change. While many were disappointed with the scale of national commitments, cities again garnered major media coverage as a source of optimism and concrete climate action and proven results.

With support from UN-HABITAT, C40 and fellow city networks ICLEI and UCLG announced the Compact of Mayors – the largest cooperative effort among cities to accelerate local climate action. New research by the parties to the Compact, in partnership with Arup, showed that 228 cities worldwide already have plans in place to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Taken together, their commitments will cut carbon emissions by a total of 13.0 gigatons CO2e by 2050.

Additional research from C40 in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Stockholm Environment Institute further showed that cities have a huge potential to contribute to additional reductions beyond what nations have already counted.

We also held the 2014 City Climate Leadership Awards with co-sponsor Siemens during Climate Week, where eleven winning projects from around the world were recognized for their leadership in demonstrating action on climate change.

In early December, heads of state reconvened in Lima at the UNFCCC’s 20thConference of the Parties, where a number of city leaders also gathered to highlight their collective impact and develop joint initiatives. There, C40 and partners formally released the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories (GPC), the first global standard for cities to measure and report their greenhouse gas emissions, allowing cities to track their own progress, as well as contribute accurate data to national emissions inventories and goals.

2014 was an exciting and productive year. With our great supporters (like you!), funders and partners, we were able to accelerate local climate action, strengthen the case for more resources to be directed to cities, and, perhaps most importantly, help to build significant momentum on the Road to Paris — and beyond.