New report summarizes what the IPCC 1.5°C special report means for cities

The below Dec. 10, 2018 press release is from C40 Cities.

The science is clear: we have to act now to prevent catastrophic climate change…and cities offer a unique opportunity to limit global temperature rise. These are some of the key findings of the Summary for Urban Policymakers of the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, launched today [Dec. 10, 2018] at the COP24 [24th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] climate negotiations in Poland.

The climate science from the IPCC’s SR1.5 report is unequivocal: allowing global temperature rise to exceed 1.5°C will disrupt basic social and economic activities around the world with the most extreme consequences for much of the population in the Global South.

While global leaders and climate experts gather in Poland to develop solutions and commitments that can deliver on this science-based goal, the Summary for Urban Policymakers offers an indispensable tool for city officials and decision makers. As global population and economic centers, cities are key to delivering a 1.5°C future. How the world’s cities develop in the years ahead will have a major impact on global efforts to curb global temperature rise and prepare for the effects of climate change already underway in a warming world.

The report details how all 1.5°C-consistent pathways require action in and by cities, because:

  1. they concentrate opportunities to address many of the causes and impacts of climate change on a systemic level;
  2. city leaders can take action faster than other levels of government;
  3. they can more easily innovate scalable solutions than other levels of government.

The report also finds that collaboration across all levels and sectors is the key: to change the trajectory of global temperature increases, we have to act now and together across all levels – locally, regionally, nationally, and globally.

The Global Covenant of Mayors and C40 Cities convened eighteen authors from the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C to develop the Summary for Urban Policymakers with input from city officials. This report follows a campaign launched by C40 and partners in 2016 to raise the profile of urban issues in the IPCC, and follows the successful Conference on Cities and Climate Change Science held in Edmonton in March 2018. It responds to the Edmonton Declaration, through which cities challenged the academic and business community to support city climate science & innovation. It is also an initial outcome of GCoM’s Global Climate Action Accelerator, Innovate4Cities, which supports leading scientists, local officials, and NGOs [non-governmental organizations] working together to make science accessible and relevant to cities.

Change, cooperation, coordination called for

“The sobering conclusion of the Summary for Urban Policy Makers is that we need to pursue aggressive strategies to limit global heating to 1.5°C, while preparing our towns, cities and regions for warming already underway. 1.5°C is likely to become the most important number in human history. It is already the target adopted by C40, since 2016, as the level of ambition needed to be part of our network,” Mark Watts, Executive Director, C40 Cities cautions, but adds, “Thanks to this report every city leader worldwide can now match that level of ambition.”

“There is no historical precedent for this kind of coordination, and systemic change at this scale will require a coordinated effort on many fronts, as well as solution-driven and outcome-oriented partnerships,” Amanda Eichel, Executive Director, Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy explained. “The Summary for Urban Policymakers of the IPCC SR1.5 is a first step in that direction and something our new Innovate4Cities initiative aims to replicate.”

Midtown Manhattan, New York

Image (bottom): Jim henderson

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