C40 Cities group of Mayors issues fresh call for national governments to end fossil fuel subsidies, as top scientists call on EU to deliver bolder net zero strategy
The C40 Cities group of Mayors has this week published a major new report setting out how they plan to engineer a "green and just" recovery from the coronavirus crisis.
The coalition, which brings together cities around the world that are committed to accelerating climate action and delivering on the goals of the Paris Agreement, also issued a fresh call for national governments to deliver their own green recovery plans and phase out fossil fuel subsidies.
Titled C40 Mayors' Agenda for a Green and Just Recovery, the new report sets out a series of principles for shaping urban green recovery plans. The measures championed by the group of mayors include green job creation programmes; increased rights and support for all workers whose efforts have proved essential during the COVID-19 crisis; investments in green industries; building retrofit programmes; investment in safe and reliable mass transit; and new protected spaces for pedestrians and cyclists.
The group adds that all stimulus packages should "support a fair and sustainable transition" and urges governments to "seize this moment to decisively move away from investments in high carbon and fossil fuel intensive industries and increase investments in a low carbon future".
The new plan also explicitly seeks to address social justice issues, highlighting how the COVID-19 pandemic has "starkly exposed deep inequalities in cities and across cities in different regions of the world, including by disproportionately impacting Black people, Indigenous communities and people of colour, low-income communities, isolated elderly, and those living in informal settlements".
Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles and C40 Chair, said: "Mayors see the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis as they are: global challenges that pose massive threats to our lives and livelihoods - and demand urgent action to correct structural inequities, improve public health, and create more inclusive economies".
"The way we shape our recovery will define our cities for generations to come, and this C40 agenda will leverage the collective power that mayors wield to help protect our planet and lay the foundation for a more just and resilient future," he added.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said co-operation between cities could play a big role in driving a global green recovery. "As London and the rest of the world start to emerge from the COVID-19 lockdown, global collaboration between cities will be key to achieving a recovery that tackles climate change at a local and global level," he said. "We have a once in a generation opportunity to rebuild our cities and economies to be greener, fairer, and more sustainable. I look forward to working with fellow mayors around the world to implement the actions of this report, including championing the need for a green stimulus that boosts green jobs and divestment from fossil fuels to build a more sustainable economy."
The report comes in the same week as a separate analysis from a group of leading academic institutions and think tanks highlighted how governments' vocal support for a global 'green recovery' is being undermined by bailout and stimulus packages targeted at high carbon industries, which have to date exceeded the funding provided to clean energy projects by around 70 per cent.
It also comes as a group of top scientists and campaigners, including school strikes founder Greta Thunberg, wrote to EU leaders calling on them to deliver a much more ambitious climate strategy.
"It is now clearer than ever that the climate crisis has never once been treated as a crisis, neither from the politicians, media, business nor finance," the letter states. "And the longer we keep pretending that we are on a reliable path to lower emissions and that the actions required to avoid a climate disaster are available within today's system… the more precious time we will lose."
The letter comes ahead of tomorrow's meeting of the EU Council of member states, where the bloc's evolving Green Deal recovery plans are set to be discussed.
Brussels has vowed to make green investments the centrepiece of its economic recovery strategy as it seeks to deliver on its goal of net zero emissions by 2050.
But the letter, which is also signed by leading climate scientists such as Michael Mann and Johan Rockstrom, warns the target is insufficiently ambitious.
"Net zero emissions by 2050 for the EU - as well as for other financially fortunate parts of the world - equals surrender," the letter states, arguing that even if it is met it delivers just a 50 per cent chance of meeting the 1.5C warming target contained in the Paris Agreement. "That is just a statistical flip of a coin, which doesn't even include some of the key factors such as the global aspect of equity, most tipping points and feedback loops, as well as already built in additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution. So in reality it is much less than a 50 per cent chance."
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