Sadiq Khan joins megacity mayors in call for G20 climate action

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has joined forces with other mayors of major cities within the G20 to call upon national leaders to take urgent action on climate change, as reports suggest that the US and China are set to showcase their commitment to the Paris Agreement.

A letter from signatories including the mayors of New York City, Tokyo and Berlin urges G20 leaders to to build a “low-carbon, climate safe word” by ensuring that global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions peak by 2020 and to limit global temperature increase to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

Ahead of a meeting of the G20 group in China this weekend, the city Mayors have also called upon national leaders to confirm the rapid ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The letter reads: “Achieving such a rapid shift is probably one of the greatest political, economic and practical challenges faced by every national leader, but you do have great allies in this task: we, the mayors of the megacities of the world.

“We want our citizens, markets and other political leaders to know that we are serious about making the Paris Agreement a reality. We call on the heads of states from our respective nation states to do the same.”

The letter states that G20 cities have already witnessed tangible benefits through climate change action, such as improved public health, cleaner air and faster economic growth. The Mayors also recognise the important role of global cities in providing a low-carbon solution through initiatives such as electric vehicles (EVs), energy efficiency and green infrastructure.

“For the major cities of the world it is already clear that the faster we move to a low-carbon economy, the greater will be the improvement in urban citizens’ standards of living, and the stronger and more sustained will be the economic development that makes that possible.”

‘Seize the opportunity’

This follows calls from non-profit organisations and an investment group controlling $13trn for the G20 to ratify the Paris Agreement this year and to strengthen its commitment towards a low-carbon economy, in the build up to this weekend’s summit.

Earlier today, it was revealed that Chinese President Xi is expected to issue a joint statement with Barack Obama to announce significant climate action plans. According to Greenpeace, the China-US bilateral meeting will include further discussions on the Paris Agreement in an attempt to pressure G20 members to ratify the deal.

Greenpeace East Asia’s senior climate policy adviser Li Shuo said: “These back-to-back meetings must see Paris move from agreement to action. Political ambition must keep up with rising sea levels faced by vulnerable communities around the world. This Saturday, Xi and Obama should seize the opportunity to lead the world’s twenty wealthiest nations by joining and building on the Paris Agreement.”

China and the US are also expected to make a leap towards this process by announcing the public review of each other’s current fossil fuel subsidy programs. Yesterday, edie reported that financial support for fossil fuel production remans widespread within G20 economies, despite an earlier pledge by the institution’s leaders to phase out ‘inefficient’ subsidies.

“Touting the Paris ‘triumph’ while handing out money to the fossil fuel industry is simply not compatible with the Paris Agreement. Governments must keep coal, oil and gas in the ground and urgently focus on a just transition to renewables,” said Li Shuo. 

“This G20 meeting must be the moment when leaders lay out a timeline for eliminating fossil fuel subsidies, a practice which the Paris Agreement has made all the more hypocritical.”

George Ogleby

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