World Summit for Climate and Territories: a 1.5bn tonne milestone towards COP 21

  • environment

Local governments and NGOs at the summit showcased commitments to reduce CO2 emissions by 2020, that together account for a 1.5 billion tonne reduction in CO2.

The World Summit for Climate and Territories sent an important message to the COP 21 negotiators: the Paris agreement in December 2015 must look beyond national state actors and include local governments and civil society. The summit in Lyon on 1-2 July brought together representatives from local and regional governments and civil society.

At the event, important mainstream initiatives such as the Covenant of Mayors, Mayors Adapt and the Compact of Mayors were presented to show the extent of local stakeholder mobilisation to tackle climate change.

Local governments and NGOs showcased their commitments to reduce CO2 emissions by 2020. The organisers calculated that that together these commitments account for 1.5 billion tonnes of CO2. According to the International Panel on Climate Change, a 9 billion ton reduction is required to limit global warming to a 2°C rise by 2050.  

The collective effort was underlined by Christiana Figueres, UNFCC executive secretary, who praised local governments for showing that achieving ambitious climate targets is possible and for giving their countries confidence ahead of a round of negotiations for which expectations are already high.

Johanna Rolland, mayor of Nantes and EUROCITIES president, presented our statement on COP 21 at the closing plenary. She emphasised our pledge to pursue a comprehensive approach to tackling climate change, using climate action as an opportunity to create jobs, and foster innovation and social inclusion for a better quality of life in cities.  

The diversity of workshops organised during the event also showcased integrated approaches, presenting local projects that have a direct impact on people’s lives.

We coordinated a workshop on energy production, consumption and access together with Energy Cities and CLER. Many local initiatives to build sustainable energy systems were presented, including the Riga Energy Agency’s plan to expand renewables and foster energy efficiency. The city of Vancouver challenged all cities to pursue its goal of becoming 100% renewable by 2050. This workshop was also an opportunity for collaborative drafting of a text encouraging climate negotiators to support the development of local energy policies to build a more democratic, efficient and prosperous energy system, based on the real needs of citizens.

The variety of workshops organised during this summit echoed many of the activities that we are undertaking in the run up to the COP 21. They are outlined in our interactive roadmap, available here. Our next stops on the road to Paris are the private political session at EUROCITIES 2015 Copenhagen/Malmo on 4-6 November; and an ‘urban dialogues’ debate in Brussels organised together with The Centre, also in November.

These activities show the commitment of European cities to work together to tackle climate change. Collective action by city governments will be key to meeting climate targets, as 80% of CO2 emissions in Europe are generated in cities.

As UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon stated: ‘We don’t have a plan B because we don’t have a planet B’.