Updates on #CitiesIPCC Campaign

Reporting from the IPCC 43rd Session in Nairobi: 

  • On the morning of Tuesday 12 April, the IPCC43 Plenary continued deliberations on Agenda Item 8.1 on Special Reports, which started in the late evening of the day before. Around 12:00, the IPCC Chair announced that a Contact Group will be formed with a mandate to make proposals to the Plenary regarding the number of Special Reports, their themes and how to deal the topics that are not considered as a Special Report. The Contact Group negotiations continued until 22:30 on Tuesday 12 April, and resumed in the morning of 13 April until around 17:00.
  • It has to be recalled that every IPCC Assessment Report is prepared according to a very strict process that includes drafting, reviewing and final approval, including a special summary for policy makers, which is the heart of the intergovernmental negotiations. In each of these reports, hundreds of scientists and governmental officials participate, mostly on a voluntary basis. Appropriate distribution of workload among Technical Support Units and Working Groups (I: physical science, II: Adaptation III: Mitigation) is another important criteria in the final decision regarding the number of reports as well. Any Special Report results in additional deadlines, committees and processes, which complicate the timing and may impact the scientific quality of all Assessment Report products, which is the top priority for any IPCC work.
  • In the afternoon session of 12 April, the number of Special Reports constituted the main focus of the negotiations. The delegates focused on four thematic proposals: land use, oceans, cities, 1.5 Degrees Celsius and regional reports.
  • Around 50 percent of delegates who took the floor expressed, with varying degrees of preferences, support for the Cities Special Report, including: Mexico, Norway, UK, UNEP, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, Hungary, UN-Habitat, Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Colombia, Chile, USA, France and Chad. These interventions highlighted the advantages of a Special Report on Cities, such as developing a cross-cutting and holistic approach on both mitigation and adaptation, introducing the IPCC to a broader and diverse community of policy makers and stakeholders, and presenting innovative approaches for the new challenges and opportunities generated by the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). During the session, the Co-Chair of the Contact Group also announced that Cities Alliance has communicated to the IPCC Secretariat the mobilization of a financial contribution of $500,000 if the IPCC decided to prepare a Special Report on cities. The intervention on behalf of the #CitiesIPCC Campaign was delivered by ICLEI around 16:00.
  • By the end of the afternoon session, the first agreement was reached, stating that availability of resources should not be the determining factor on the final decision regarding the number and theme of the Special Reports. There was also a general consensus that the 6th Assessment Report Special Reports should not be fewer than two but not more than three. Except for an oil-producing Member State from the Middle East, there was a high degree of consensus among all Member States to positively respond to the request from COP21 to the IPCC for the preparation of a Special Report on the 1.5 Degree Celsius Goal and the related GHG emissions pathway by 2018, as this will provide a key input to the rapid implementation of the Paris Agreement. It was also agreed that Regional Reports will be dealt with in more detail within each chapter of the Assessment Report, as appropriate.
  • Following these initial clarifications, the evening session of the Contact Group on Tuesday 12 April focused on the selection of the two Special Reports from the three proposals of land use, oceans and cities. The perseverance of the oil-producing Member State from the Middle East led the negotiations in such a direction that many of the Member States who previously expressed support to a Cities Special Report had to weaken their position in order to secure a Special Report on the 1.5 Degrees Goal.
  • Based on this general consensus, the Co-Chairs announced that the Contact Group will resume its session on Wednesday 13 April to focus on the exact details of the three Special Reports. The Co-Chairs encouraged delegates to formulate their textual suggestions so that the Cities proposal is dealt with appropriately within the AR6 cycle.
  • Through the night of 12 April and in the early hours of 13 April, a number of members of the #CitiesIPCC campaign had agreed on a revised negotiation position that aimed for a) A Special Report on Cities in the AR7 Cycle, b) Special chapters on cities in all the three Special Reports and c) A more holistic approach to urban issues in the entirety of the AR6 cycle and enhanced engagement of urban practitioners in the preparations of reports. These positions were shared with a number of Member States who have been considered as Champions of the proposal for a Cities Special Report for their consideration in their interventions throughout the Contact Group negotiations.
  • On the morning of 13 April, the Co-Chairs shared their first draft texts as the conclusions of the Contact Group. In this draft, para. 4 referred to cities, including a recommendation to the IPCC to consider unique mitigation and adaptation opportunities through urban development and to engage urban practitioners.
  • During the negotiations, South Africa, St. Lucia, and Hungary, supported by many other Member States including Brazil, Argentina, Norway, Mexico and the US, suggested to add language on including an AR7 Special Report on Cities, engagement in the scoping of all AR6 cycles, and co-hosting of an international conference early in the AR6 cycle with international partners, cities and urban practitioners to consider innovative approaches to engage cities in both AR6 and its Special Reports, but in particular prepare the necessary background for an AR7 Cities Special Report.
  • In the afternoon, Co-Chair released a second draft text which this time included three paragraphs on cities, incorporating all the above proposals and even further strengthening the related language from a “recommendation” to “decision” of the IPCC.







12 April 2016, Nairobi, Kenya

Yunus Arikan, Head of Global Policy and Advocacy at ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability.

Madame Co-Chair, distinguished delegations,

This intervention is delivered by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability on behalf of a Campaign for an IPCC Special Report on Cities and Climate Change, initiated by C40 Cities, ICLEI and UCLG. The Campaign supports the proposal presented by S. African government and is endorsed by hundreds of Mayors and more than 25 city networks and urban stakeholders worldwide, representing billions of citizens in all continents. We also appreciate many positive responses expressed by a great diversity of Member States & Co-Chairs.

Cities are already facing the impacts of climate change and are highly vulnerable to a range of climate hazards. Cities are integral to fighting climate change; as they are responsible for 37–49% of global GHG emissions. Research shows that urban policy decisions made by 2020 could determine up to a third of the remaining global carbon budget that is not already ‘locked-in’ by past decisions.   

The historic Paris Agreement adopted at the COP21 in December 2015 recognized the importance of engagement all levels of governments and the vital role of all Non-Party stakeholders, including cities and other subnational authorities.

COP21 also saw the culmination of years of advocacy efforts of local and subnational governments through the Local Government Climate Roadmap, peaking with the Climate Summit for Local Leaders held in Paris City Hall and demonstration of significant progress in key partnerships like Compact of Mayors and Covenant of Mayors.

The IPCC now has a huge opportunity and responsibility to strengthen the momentum generated by COP21 and to drive urban policy-making, including implementation of SDG:11 on cities and preparing for Habitat III conference in October 2016.

An IPCC Special Report on Cities and Climate Change would serve to clarify the potential governance, policy, and financial instruments to support mitigation and adaptation actions in urban areas, where more than half of the world’s population lives and three fourths of global economy are generated.

Such a comprehensive, global, and authoritative resource on cities and climate change represents a significant opportunity to simultaneously advance scientific knowledge, policy, and leadership at local, national and global levels, as well as to complement and advance the work started through IPCC AR5. It also perfectly encompasses at least Working Groups II and III.

We already are informed that Cities Alliance and UN-Habitat by communicated to the IPCC Secretariat the mobilization of $500,000 and $100,000, respectively, if such a report is to be undertaken. A number of local governments and urban stakeholders may also be mobilized, in line with the growing tendency of contributions from cities and regions to Green Climate Funds and other global mechanisms.

Recalling that the climate battle will be won or lost in cities, we would like to highlight that urban development universally is still influenced with the national policies and that is why we need the guidance by IPCC.

Madame Co-Chair, distinguished delegations,

The Paris Agreement, Sustainable Development Goals and global efforts on sustainability can only succeed if all levels of governments are fully and urgently engaged in synergy. Let IPCC pave the way. I thank you.