The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
7,100 Cities From 119 Countries Join Together in Historic Collaboration to Accelerate Climate Action
When UN Secretary-General Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change Michael R. Bloomberg suggested creating a Compact of Mayors to mirror the UN program for national commitments on climate change, it was not possible to guess how central the idea would become to putting mayors at the heart of global climate action. But it turned out to be a game changer.
Just five months on from the "Abu Dhabi Ascent" conference where we first discussed the idea, in September 2014 at the UN Secretary General's Climate Summit in New York City, three global city networks, C40, ICLEI and UCLG joined forces to help activate the compact. We hoped to better quantify the collective magnitude and potential for cities and towns to deliver emissions reductions. Working quickly, decisively and collaboratively under the compact, the networks helped to inspire ambitious commitments from more than 500 cities of all sizes around the globe; just as nation states registered commitments to emissions reductions in the lead up to the COP21 climate summit.
The effort demonstrated the unprecedented scope and degree to which local governments were already engaged in meaningful, collaborative climate action and, importantly, gave a voice for them at a high level in the UN, through the leadership of Special Envoy Bloomberg and engagement of the Local Government and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) constituency. As a result, cities were crucial in shaping and advocating for a strong Paris agreement on climate change—and city leaders will be crucial in delivering on its ambition going forward.
Now cities are making another great and historic stride: bringing together the Compact of Mayors and the EU Covenant of Mayors to form a new Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, announced Wednesday in Brussels. This new initiative will be even more important for its ability to unify existing commitments at all levels, including thousands of European towns and villages and hundreds of major global metropolises—altogether more than 7,100 cities from 119 countries and six continents and representing more than 600 million residents, more than 8 percent of the world's population.
To give a sense of the magnitude of the impact these cities can have: as of December 2015, cities and towns signed on to the Compact of Mayors had already made commitments that could deliver half of the global urban potential greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions available by 2020. At the same time, actions by EU Covenant of Mayors signatories accounted for 15 percent of the EU-28 CO2 emissions reduction 2020 target. Under one unified banner, these city climate leaders will demonstrate the vast power of cities to effect global change.
Aligning efforts will allow for greater collaboration between cities across the world to tackle the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced, bridging gaps and building connections, as well as increasing funding to support and empower cities to do more. The merger will harness the convening power and investment of the European Union and the UN Secretary General Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, generously supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies—critical ingredients to unlocking the potential of cities to take action. We hope many other donors will follow suit to support local climate action that can be scaled up, with support of the city networks. Moreover, a merged initiative will ensure more consistent and comparable data—giving investors the ability to see that the actions cities have been taking are having lasting and verifiable impact.
As city networks, we have long been committed to the principle that working together helps cities go farther, faster. We therefore welcome the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. We look forward to engaging new partners and a broader coalition of city leaders committed to taking concrete, measurable and transparent action on climate change. United, we can lead the drive to peak global emissions by 2020 and enhance climate change adaptation and resilience in our communities.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.
The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.