ICLEI Japan has been focusing on local governments, who are the main actors in realizing a sustainable society, and introduces those that are leading the way in combating on climate change in the bimonthly Global Warming issue of Nippo Business (Only Japanese Available).
Volume 12：Under the shadow of coronavirus, the Race to Zero Campaign reaffirms the commitment to a zero-carbon future
ICLEI, as part of the Race to Zero campaign led by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), hosted the “Race to Zero Dialogue” on 29th July with the theme of “Leadership and Action in Cities and Regions.” The aim was to promote the efforts of cities and regions in preventing future threats from natural disasters from increased climate variability, creating employment and unlocking inclusive, sustainable economic growth.
The panel included UNFCCC Deputy Secretariat Ovais Sarmad, ICLEI Chairman Ashok Sridharan from Bonn, Germany, Mayor Minna Arve from Turku, Finland , Mayor Yeom Tae-Young from Suwon, South Korea, and Governor Abe of Nagano Prefecture and Mayor Shimizu from Saitama Prefecture, both Japan. The Japanese Minister for the Environment, Shinjiro Koizumi, participated as a guest speaker via a video message. Approximately 350 people participated in the exchange of opinions.
Extensive collaboration, not just between local governments
Race to Zero is a global campaign which was launched by the “Climate Ambition Alliance” (CAA ) in the build up to COP25 to connect countries, businesses, investors, cities, and regions all working towards net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. By June 2020, the CAA represented a coalition of 449 cities, 21 regions, 995 businesses, 38 investors, and 505 universities.
The Dialogue was hosted by ICLEI, a network of local authorities aiming to increase momentum in reaching climate targets. The cities and regions involved have the purpose of strengthening engagement with non-state actors and realising the commitments of the Paris Agreement.
A green recovery
Achieving a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic attracted a lot of interest from the participants. During the “Race to Zero Dialogue”, which was held online, participants agreed with renewed emphasis their commitment to create a better society based on a zero-carbon future. However, in reality, the majority of cities and regions have reiterated the goals they were aiming for before the coronavirus pandemic. The economic slowdown due to coronavirus has temporarily reduced greenhouse gas emissions, but the ideal green recovery which continues to reduce emissions while rebuilding the economy remains unclear.
In Japan, a series of torrential rains and other disasters have brought about a sense of the climate crisis. The number of declarations by local governments to achieve zero emissions by 2050 has expanded to 151, including Tokyo, Kyoto, and Yokohama (as of 6th August, 2020). As the social and economic situation is affected by the coronavirus pandemic, a green recovery is becoming a guiding principle. It is, however, difficult to follow. In order to make the most of the outcomes from the Dialogue going forwards, it will be necessary to work actively not only with local authorities, but also with the national government, private companies, and research institutes.
Translated in English and summarized by Isabelle Ward