Coalition for Urban Transitions launched to accelerate global climate commitments

A new coalition consisting of 83 affiliated cities, a global economic commission and the Word Resources Institute (WRI) was launched on Thursday (5 May), with the aim of using metropolitan areas as an "evidence base" to highlight the sustainable climate solutions available to policy makers.

The Coalition for Urban Transitions – unveiled by the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo at the Climate Action Summit in Washington – will support decision-makers at national levels through economic research and in-country engagement, to blueprint the introduction of “effective urban infrastructure investment”.

The Coalition will be led by major international commission the New Climate Economy, WRI’s Ross Centre for Sustainable Cities and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) – a mix of global cities ranging from “mega” to “innovator” which represents 25% of the global GDP.

“Mayors know about the economic and wider benefits of sustainable cities, which is why many are doing everything they can to act on the opportunities from low carbon growth,” C40 chair and Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes said.

“However, the scale of the urbanisation challenge is so large that we can’t do it alone. We need national-level policy makers and economic planning to complement city-level efforts. That’s where the Coalition for Urban Transitions will play a big role.”

For the next three years, the Coalition will work with a number of “rapidly-urbanising countries”. The Coalition will work in China to tackle air pollution issues by developing tightly linked mass transit systems. Work will also take place in India, where the urban population is expected to surpass 600 million by 2030.

With a recent report from the New Climate Economy revealing that investing in efficient cites could reduce emissions and generate energy savings of $17trn by 2050, the coalition believes that by simply investing in sustainable transport, more than $300bn could be saved annually.

The Coalition will aim to communicate with national leaders and Ministers of Finance, Energy, Transportation and Economy, in order to unlock the potential of sustainable cities, which has been boosted by the creation of a $1.15bn global platform from the World Bank to embed sustainability within developing cities.

Aligning stars

The Climate Action Summit in Washington was used as a beacon to highlight the significance in accelerating the shift to a low-carbon future – especially now that the Paris Agreement had been officially signed.

Speaking at the event was UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who called on cities to reduce emissions while simultaneously issuing a battle-cry for businesses to invest in green technologies.

“We need to accelerate the speed, scope and scale of our response, locally and globally,” Ki-moon said. “I have been looking forward to this event because it is about solutions – innovation and imagination; collaboration and partnerships between the public and private sectors.

“Today as never before, the stars are aligning in favour of climate action. Everywhere I look, I see signs of hope. No sector of society and no nation can succeed alone. I encourage you to collaborate, innovate and invest. Together we can build the world we want.”

Matt Mace

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