COP22: The Vital Role of Cities and Regions in the Fight Against Global Warming
While the arrival of representatives of the world’s national Governments always catches the headlines at COP summits, subnational jurisdictions – cities, states, regions – play an arguably more important role in the fight against climate change.
This was the message from speakers at a blue zone side event at COP 22, which is being held in Marrakesh, Morocco, called Under2MOU: 20150 Strategies Towards 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Laurence Tubiana, High-Level Climate Champion of France, stressed the importance of sub-nationals in cutting emissions and reducing the carbon footprint of the world. He said: “We must make sure we aren’t stopped by uncertainty. We shouldn’t wait, shouldn’t doubt. We should just continue.”
The Under2MOU Coalition is a collection of different subnational entities including cities, provinces and regions that have pledged to limit greenhouse gas emissions to two tons per capita or 80-95% below 1990 levels by 2050. During COP22 the coalition gained 29 members to make a total of 165.
Philippe Couillard, Premier of Québec, which is a signatory to the Under2MOU, said: “We will keep using carbon pricing as the main tool of our actions because the market provides us with significant funding.
“We deliberately decided not to make it revenue neutral. We use the funding to reinvest in economic initiatives related to climate change.”
Sir David King, the UK’s special representative, said the lower goal of 1.5°degrees Celsius was a preference voiced by many countries during the Paris Agreement negotiations. “The difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius is one between a manageable situation and a disastrous one,” King said.
He added that focusing on building the commercial case for renewables is the best way forward. It is much cheaper, he said, to introduce renewables in developing countries than it is to build the infrastructure for fossil fuel-based grids. “Reaching the point where it will be more economical to go with clean energy than fossil fuels is the way to win the battle,” he added.
Sweden’s Cabinet Minister for the Environment Karolina Skog said job growth and long-term economics are a key component of their strategy for clean energy. “We have a long history of co-funding from the regional to a local level. We create jobs, and we create good incentives to work with innovation.”
The importance of taking action in cities had earlier in the conference been the subject of another event at COP22.
Urban areas are responsible for an estimated 70% of energy-related global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with the building and construction sector accountable for over 20% of global emissions.
According to the World Bank adapting to climate change could cost $80 to $100 billion per year, 80% of which will need to be invested in cities in order to achieve the goal of keeping global warming under 2 degrees Celsius.
Cites and Human Settlements Day at COP22 was the occasion for The Global Alliance for Buildings and Constructions to launch a roadmap for buildings, with a focus on low energy efficient building and climate finance, particularly for developing countries.