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10 Ways That Latin America is Driving Global Climate Action

2015 marks the 10-year anniversary of C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. To celebrate these 10 Years of Results, we will be sharing our favorite lists of 10 throughout the year.

Latin American cities have enormous potential to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions – C40 research indicates that together they could cut emissions by 2,500 MtCO2 by 2030, or the equivalent of taking 526 million cars off the road. Fortunately, many Latin American cities are already taking bold climate action, creating and implementing sustainable solutions to enhance the quality of life of urban citizens across the continent. We are proud to present some of the region’s most notable accomplishments here.

1. Elected C40 Chair

In December 2013, Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes officially assumed the Chairmanship of C40, taking over from three-term New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, and becoming the organization’s first Chair from Latin America. Under Mayor Paes, C40 has expanded its membership and continued to demonstrate that strong city leadership and innovation on climate change can make an impact on a global scale.

2. Our First-ever Regional Forum

Hosted by Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri in March 2015, the C40 Latin American Mayors Forum was attended by more than 400 people, including 15 mayors and vice-mayors from the region and former President of Mexico and Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy Felipe Calderón.

3. Commitment to the Compact of Mayors

In the first such regional commitment of its kind, a sweeping set of 20 Latin American cities – including nine C40 cities – signed a Declaration on the Compact of Mayors, which is the world’s largest cooperative effort among city leaders to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, track progress and prepare for the impacts of climate change. By signing on to this declaration, Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Curitiba, Lima, Mexico City, Quito, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo set a strong example for other C40 cities around the world to follow. Our Compact partner organizations, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, UCLG and UN-Habitat, have also been integral in setting the stage for this powerful call from cities for global climate action.

4. A Call for Clean Buses

Mayors of 20 C40 cities – including Latin American cities Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Curitiba, Mexico City, Quito, Rio de Janeiro, and Salvador – signed the C40 City Clean Bus Declaration of Intent, at the C40 Latin American Mayors Forum. The Declaration demonstrates a commitment by C40 cities to reducing emissions and improving air quality through the introduction of low- and zero-emission buses in their fleets; and it is a call to global manufacturers, multilateral development banks and other stakeholders to help decarbonise urban mass transport.

5. A Strong Showing at the City Climate Leadership Awards

Latin American cities continue to be internationally recognized for their leadership in developing and implementing innovative climate solutions. During the 2013 City Climate Leadership Awards, Bogotá won for its Transmilenio & e-taxis scheme, Mexico City for its Proaire program, and Rio de Janeiro for its comprehensive urban revitalization strategy, Morar Carioca. Buenos Aires won the 2013 Citizen’s Choice Award for its Plan for Sustainable Mobility, and in 2014 the city took home the Solid Waste Management award for their Solid Urban Waste Reduction Project.

6. Hybrid Electric Bus Test Program

The region is responsible for a groundbreaking initiative that could help shape the future of sustainable urban transportation around the world. The Hybrid Electric Bus Test Program – designed and implemented by C40 in partnership with the Clinton Climate Initiative, and with financial support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) — evaluated the emissions and technological performance of hybrid and electric buses in Bogotá, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Santiago de Chile.

7. Cutting Down on Waste

Waste is another key sector where Latin American cities are driving action, using innovation and technology to cooperate and share knowledge across the C40 Sustainable Solid Waste Systems Network. Moreover, Lima, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are active members of the Municipal Solid Waste Initiative, which C40 launched with the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) at Rio+20. In 2014 the CCAC approved USD $1.8M in funding to expand and accelerate the Initiative to improve waste management practices in cities.

8. Leaders in C40 Networks

Latin American cities play an active role in C40 Networks. As leaders, participants and workshop hosts, the region’s cities continue to demonstrate their commitment to sharing best practice and innovative ideas. Buenos Aires is co-lead of the Bus Rapid Transit Network and São Paulo is co-lead of the Climate Positive Development Network. Last year, Bogotá hosted the LEV Network Workshop and Rio de Janeiro hosted a workshop for the Risk Assessment Network. Buenos Aires will host a workshop for the Bus Rapid Transit Network in June of this year.

9. Lima in the Limelight

The City of Lima took the international stage when it hosted the UNFCCC’s 20th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) in December 2014. The two-week negotiations resulted in the Lima Accord, where for the first time, all countries agreed to curb their rates of greenhouse gas emissions, an important milestone on the Road to Paris 2015. Nations weren’t the only ones demonstrating commitment to climate action during the COP. C40, in partnership with World Resources Institute and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, launched the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories (GPC) at Lima City Hall, an event attended by former Mayor of Lima Susana Villarán and more than 100 city officials, sustainability experts and thought leaders from around the world.

10. Mexico City, Host of 2016 C40 Mayors Summit

Latin America’s climate action leadership has a solid foundation – and a bright future. Indeed, Mexico City has been selected to host the next C40 Mayors Summit on November 8 – 11, 2016. As C40’s flagship event, the Summit will bring together global C40 mayors and urban sustainability leaders to advance urban solutions to climate change and highlight the leadership role of cities in addressing climate change.