Bloomberg and mayors call for Global Green New Deal to 'marry economy and ecology'
The Mayors of cities including Los Angeles, Copenhagen and Paris have issued a rallying call for the adoption of a Global Green New Deal that recognises the threat of the climate emergency and strives to transition to a low-carbon future through a fair and just transition.
Convening at the C40 Summit in Copenhagen, 80 mayors and hundreds of climate leaders issued formal support for the creation of a Global Green New Deal.
Newly elected C40 Chair, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, led the calls by challenging national leaders, business chief executives and global investors to ramp up ambitions to deliver a new global practice for climate action.
“We feel [climate change] in our lungs, we feel it in our lives, and we feel it in our budgets, because we have to increasingly spend to respond to the climate emergency,” Garcetti told delegates in Copenhagen. “We know that if we fail to take aggressive action, we’re not just looking at the collapse of the environment, but of human civilization as we know it.
“Too many parts of the world are facing uncertainty. All human beings are looking to the future with deep economic insecurity; technology is changing for the better, but it can also work us out of jobs. Ecological devastation and economical dislocation are the two big challenges of our time.
“But collectively cities can win this battle. Its what cities do. Cities build the climates, cities protect their people and cities can save this planet…We are entering a make-or-break decade for the preservation of our planet and environmental justice for every community — and I am proud to lead C40 cities at this critical moment. Together we will continue leading the drive to protect the world and promote a better, more equitable life for everyone living in it.”
Garcetti noted that the urgency of today could combine with a human ability to innovate in a way that could create a "marriage of the economic and ecologic" that helps achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, spur the green economy and collectively enact a Global Green New Deal that sparked a "decade of climate action".
A decade of action
The Global Green New Deal calls on nations to publicly recognise the global emergency and commit to limiting global heating to below the 1.5C threshold of the Paris Agreement as a response. This would mean halving global emissions by 2030 and getting every business, individual, investor, partner, informal settlement representative and nation that forms part of Global Green New Deal to commit to science-based targets for emissions reductions.
Tackling climate change under the Deal should also be inclusive, the mayors argue, meaning that climate change adaptation should be at the centre of all urban decision making. It should protect livelihoods and help end poverty while also safeguarding communities most at threat from climate change.
What is a Green New Deal?
The Green New Deal movement has been around for over a decade, but has recently hit mainstream media following Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s intentions to create a US iteration of the deal. While her first offering was unanimously rejected by senators, the movement has picked up pace, notably in the UK.
In the UK, a Decarbonisation and Economic Strategy Bill has been tabled, which aims to place duties on the government to “decarbonise the economy and to eradicate inequality”. Specifically, it calls for a ten-year economic and public investment strategy “that prioritises decarbonisation, community and employee-led transition from high-carbon to low and zero-carbon industry and the eradication of inequality”.
Already, 30 of the world's largest cities, including London, New York and Copenhagen, have now reached a peak in their greenhouse gas emissions, according to new analysis which has examined the climate actions of cities aiming to curb emissions by 2020.
The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, which consists of 94 cities aiming to lead on climate action, has revealed that 30 of its members have now peaked their emissions. Cities such as Austin, Athens, Lisbon, and Venice are the latest to reach the milestone. The 30 cities have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 22%.
The cities have been working as part of the C40’s Deadline 2020 programme. In total, half of all C40 cities have already reached peak emissions, are projected to achieve peak emissions by 2020, or have made public commitments to do so.
Bloomberg calls out Trump
Also speaking at the event was Michael R. Bloomberg, C40 Board President, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action, and Mayor of New York City between 2002-2013. Bloomberg echoed Garcetti’s belief that ecological restoration and climate action didn’t have to result in an economic slowdown.
“The need for climate action is growing more urgent and it seems the consequences of inaction are all around us,” Bloomberg said, referencing the streak of hottest years on record that have been recorded over the last 18 years.
“We are still led by mayors who understand that fighting climate change and growing the economy go hand-in-hand, we saw that in New York City, cutting our carbon footprint by 14% and at the same time creating new jobs across the city.”
Bloomberg noted that the wave of climate strikes taking place across the globe had shifted the dial on the climate conversation, and that cities had a key role to play in both creating a platform for citizens to air their concerns and act as a testbed for climate solutions.
He used his keynote speech to mention that this kind of conversation, driven from the bottom up, was crucial in spurring climate action, even in nations like the US where policy frameworks are largely ignoring climate change.
“Bottom-up progress takes on greater importance in countries with national governments that are dragging their feet on climate action,” Bloomberg said. “Unfortunately, embarrassingly as it is to say, Washington is the worst case.
“Two years ago, President Trump announced his attention to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement, that wasn’t the end of the story though. Mayors across our country, along with thousands of businesses, universities and schools, came together and vowed not to pull away from the agreement.”
Bloomberg noted that it would be the collaborative efforts that span the public and private sectors, like the America’s Pledge agreement, that would ultimately drive a just transition to a low-carbon economy.