Cities account for over 70% of global fossil fuel CO2 (Seto et al., 2014) and are vulnerable hotspots of climate change impact (Revi et al., 2014) The scale of ongoing urban expansion (and associated infrastructure and buildings that are yet to be built) provides a unique opportunity for cities to ‘bend the curve’ to avoid dangerous climate change. Cities and regions may also be powerhouses of ambitious mitigation and adaptation measures that are hard to legislate and implement at national level. Cities could play an important role in safeguarding our collective human future.
The leadership shown by cities helped make a bold agreement on climate change possible at COP21 in Paris. That leadership will remain critically important in the years ahead as the world works to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals and prevent the worst impacts of climate change. As much progress as we’ve made, the hardest work still lies ahead.
“This century’s challenge focuses on how to grow using a new model of development. As home to more than half of the world’s 7 billion people and one of the largest sources of emissions, cities are well situated to reshape social and economic growth and usher in an era of climate-safe, sustainable development.” Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (2010-2016)