By Ashok Sridharan, Mayor of Bonn and President of ICLEI and Marcin Krupa, Mayor of Katowice and member of the the ICLEI Urban Transitions Alliance
Next month, we will join nations in Katowice, Poland for COP24, the 24th United Nations Climate Change Conference. These negotiations come at the tail end of a year marked by noteworthy developments in the science and politics of climate change, which substantiate and strengthen calls for nations to ratchet up their commitments.
As city leaders, we are committed to doing the thoughtful, transformative work required to create a serious and steady shift towards a zero carbon society that maintains a well-balanced use of our natural resources. We are well aware of the climate reality in front of us – and our role in addressing it. Hailing from the heart of coal-heavy regions, we are a key part of a fundamental shift we know is critical.
2018 delivered a hard-fact reality check with the release of the IPCC special report on 1.5 degrees, which added a layer of urgency to the surge of activity this year. Between the CitiesIPCC conference, the Global Climate Action Summit and the Cities and Regions Talanoa Dialogues, there is substantial momentum building for science-driven, evidence-based climate action co-designed by all levels of government and a cross-section of non-governmental stakeholders.
At the upcoming climate talks, we will represent the climate leadership many people have come to expect and hope for from city leaders, particularly those hailing from the coal regions like ours, where just transitions are in motion. We will bring this commitment to deep transformation, while calling on nations to translate global momentum into political decisions and actions that achieve higher climate ambitions.
At this COP, we call for:
- Clarity around rules that govern implementation of the Paris Agreement
At COP24, national governments are due to finalize the Paris Agreement Work Programme, a set of guidelines governing implementation of the Paris Agreement. Following negotiations in Bonn and Bangkok, ahead of Katowice, there are still a number of open questions.
From the city perspective, it is important that rules governing implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) be clear and transparent. We are, and will continue to be, active partners in shaping and implementing national climate policy. The more we know about the process and requirements, the better able we are to engage, identify gaps, contribute data and support continuous review and improvement – ultimately supporting nations to ratchet up ambition ahead of 2020, when they submit new or revised commitments.
As mayors of COP23 and COP24 host cities, we also know the value of our engagement at the global level. In the United Nations system, the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action, is our framework for structured collaboration between all levels of government, businesses and investors. In Katowice, we are looking for a clear decision that this process will be integrated into the Paris Agreement implementation rules, securing our place as vital and active partners in both pre-2020 and post-2020 conversations.
- Strong leadership from nations to raise their level of ambition
The climate community has a common goal: to keep the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Right now, NDCs are far from keeping us on track. If we continue as is, the planet will warm above 1.5 degrees as early 2030. This underscores that nations need to rapidly raise their commitments to align with the 1.5-degree scenario, reflecting these new commitments in their 2020 NDC submissions. At COP, we are calling on heads of states and ministers to make unambiguous and significantly bolder mitigation commitments that align with the 1.5-degree target, and reflect the emissions reductions potential of cities.
At the same time, nations need to take resilience-building and adaptation just as seriously. The IPCC report warns us that even a 1.5-degree scenario comes with significant global impacts: up to 69 million people exposed to flooding and 15 percent of the population exposed to severe heat. The other reality is that many communities around the world already face significant climate-related challenges, set to intensify over time. While taking all possible steps to limit global warming, resilience planning – particularly in vulnerable coastal and island communities – needs to accelerate.
- Ongoing collaboration in the form of multilevel, multi-stakeholder partnerships
Over the course of 2018, local, regional and national governments engaged in a worldwide conversation on multilevel, multi-stakeholder climate action through the Cities and Regions Talanoa Dialogues. Launched by ICLEI, UN-Habitat and the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy early this year, these dialogues mark the start of concerted efforts by local governments, regional governments, their networks and partners to make multilevel, multi-stakeholder climate action a standard part of national climate planning and implementation.
Over the course of 2018, more than 52 Cities and Regions Talanoa Dialogues, sparked by the Bonn-Fiji Commitment from COP23, were held in 37 countries. Organized to align with the spirit of Talanoa – a Fijian word connoting inclusive, transparent dialogue – the Cities and Regions Talanoa Dialogues have breathed new life into national climate action. They have shown that all levels of government and subnational actors are ready and willing to collaborate, and make that critical linkage between climate and urban policy.
Now, as nations look ahead towards submitting renewed, more ambitious climate commitments, all nations need to leverage partnerships with local and regional governments and a cross-section of stakeholders to drive action in the urban context, as a prerequisite for 1.5-degree alignment. As part of this, there are key lessons nations can and should pull from subnational approaches and integrate into national commitments: a strong emphasis on the science-policy-practitioner interface and inter-sectoral collaboration championed by local and regional governments.
This COP, like any other, is one stop along the way in our efforts to make ambitious, inclusive climate action a standard model in each country. We will continue to represent our fellow city leaders, and work with our national partners to bring about real, deep transformation.
We will bring this collaboration to our everyday efforts, and to global fora to accelerate momentum. As we prepare for Katowice, we are looking ahead towards the 2019 mid-year climate talks in Bonn, where ICLEI will bring a renewed focus on urban resilience, and the 2019 United Nations Climate Summit, a space to mobilize political and financial backing for climate action, and all components of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
For more information and announcements on multilevel climate action coming out of COP24, visit citiesandregions.org.