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Groundbreaking C40 Research Proves Cities are Critical

With nearly all the world’s countries signing the Paris Agreement to fight climate change last month, there was also a growing recognition of the role cities are playing in this effort. Suffice it to say, 2015 was a big year for cities and climate change.

Relatedly, it was also a big year for the C40 Research team, which released several critical reports quantifying exactly where cities fit in the global climate equation, both today and in the future.

In July C40 released Powering Climate Action: Cities as Global Changemakers, a piece of research in concert with Arup and UCL that provides insight into the power that mayors have to implement solutions in their cities.

In the lead-up to and during the COP21 climate negotiations, C40 released a series of reports that outline the significance of cities’ central role in combatting climate change, especially over the next five years, before the Paris Agreement takes effect in 2020.

Taken together, these reports catalogue the broad landscape of climate actions cities have taken since the last major COP in Copenhagen, show that urban policy decisions over the next five years could determine up to a third of the planet’s remaining “un-locked” safe carbon budget, and finally, outline the potential action that remains to be taken, and indicate the challenges that need to be addressed in order to do so.

  • The Decisions We Make Today Will Shape Tomorrow demonstrates that one third of the world’s remaining safe carbon budget could be locked-in by urban policy decisions in the next five years.
  • Climate Action in Megacities 3.0 quantifies 10,000 city climate actions taken by C40 cities since the last major COP in Copenhagen, and most significantly, demonstrates that collaboration between cities is helping them deliver more and better climate action.
  • Potential for Climate Action indicates the tremendous potential there is for more climate action in C40 cities, and starts to unpick the barriers to doing so. Crucially, the report finds the ¾ of the challenges cities face cannot be fixed unilaterally, but need the help of partners in the private sector, national government etc. This will be followed by a second report in May this year, which frames solutions and recommendations for overcoming these challenges.

Left to right: Kgosientso Ramokgopa, Executive Mayor of Tshwane; Arron Wood, Environment Portfolio Chair for City of Melbourne; Paula Kirk, Associate Director at Arup; Matthew Pencharz, Deputy Mayor for Environment & Energy at Greater London Authority; Mark Watts, C40 Executive Director; and Seth Schultz, C40 Director of Research, Measurement and Planning at the launch of Potential for Climate Action during COP21 in Paris.

Also during COP21, C40 helped release new data showing that existing Compact of Mayors commitments can deliver half of the world’s potential urban emissions reductions by 2020.

C40 closed out the year with a joint piece of research with Realdania and the City of Copenhagen that assesses co-benefits of urban climate action around the world. This was the first item in a multi-year program in which C40 will work with member cities around the world to bring greater clarity, understanding and robustness to data on the co-benefits to our cities in taking climate action.

C40 also just announced a new research partnership with Novo Nordisk, which forms part of a growing program of work on how cities can overcome climate challenges and the wider benefits of climate action.

And it doesn’t stop here: C40 Research has big plans for 2016. Please stay tuned to our blog post for upcoming announcements.

For more about C40’s research, visit our Research library.