More than 800,000 people tuned into the Zero Carbon Forum to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement and chart a new, more ambitious course for the cities, and citizens, of the world. The two-day event brought together mayors from around the world to discuss the most pressing issues for cities in the race to decarbonise and plot a path for cities to continue their leading role.
The event shone a light on a global mayors culture that has developed in the past five years. Locally elected leaders more in touch with the needs of their citizens determined to move every available lever in the push for climate neutrality.
Energy Cities was represented by our President, Eckart Würzner, mayor of Heidelberg. His message was clear, “More & more cities are working together to fight climate change. 5 years ago we had to fight to be on the international table of climate change policy. Now the cities are taking a lead position.”
But he also stressed the important role of other levels of government.
“In Heidelberg we have our energy company that just agreed to build 3MW more clean energy and in Germany we have over 700 city-owned energy companies building as much renewable electricity as they can.” But he cited France and Italy where large operators are much less interested in working with cities to build local, renewable energy sources and the clear role for national governments to help cities develop themselves.
Countries that do not involve their cities in designing policy risk wasting the potential of cities and losing time – a commodity in very short supply.
Energy Cities’ board member and deputy Mayor of Paris Dan Lert was one of the hosts of the event and echoed the need for collaboration across different levels of government, “5 years ago the Paris Agreement was historic and cities have been active players in the progress, but we need to continue to increase efforts in the next five all spheres of government working together if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”
The culmination of the international event was the signing of the Paris Declaration that celebrates what has been done and “reassert(s) our ambition to contain the increase in global warming within the 1.5˚C goal of the Paris Agreement”. The declaration also contains a number of pledges, some tied to specific targets but all of them embracing a system-change approach by using nature-based solutions developed with and by broader communities of political leaders, citizens, trade unions, investors and civil society.
December 14, 2020