The Role of Cities

The battle against climate change will be won or lost in cities. The role of provincial and federal governments is, of course, widely debated, analyzed and understood. Yet the challenge is so huge that cross-cutting action at all levels will be needed. The central role of city leaders in our rapidly urbanizing world will be key to reducing the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The leaders of large cities have a particular responsibility to act, and governments must empower and enable city governments to take on this role.
If global efforts to address climate change are to be successful, they will need to integrate city requirements and environmental management capacities. Only with a coordinated approach and actions at the global, regional, national and local levels can success be achieved. Many cities are now taking the initiative to reduce their impact on the global climate.
By 2030, two-thirds of humanity will live in cities or urban areas. Half already do. Even now, cities consume 75 per cent of the world’s energy and are responsible for 80 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions. Moreover, all cities are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and none more so than fast growing cities in developing countries. About 20 of the 30 largest cities of the world are situated on low lying coasts. Rising sea levels of a few metres would have catastrophic implications. So there’s an extraordinary responsibility and motivation for cities to act. It is at city level that innovation and progress on climate change action is most likely to be achieved.

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