Christiana Figueres, Vice Chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, Convener of Mission 2020 and former UNFCCC Executive Secretary, acknowledged the significance of the Paris Agreement but called for continued vigilance and urgent action to raise ambition. The commitments made in Paris are not nearly enough to reach the goal of keeping global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius. The Paris Agreement is structured to include a global stocktake every five years and the stock-take processes will begin next year at the 2018 Facilitative Dialogue.
Climate leaders are pushing for greater ambition and creating the frameworks to make that ambition possible. Governor Jerry Brown of California spoke at several events throughout the day, spreading his message, sending a call to action to crowds of leaders, experts and organizers. He highlighted climate achievements in the State of California, but acknowledged that progress has been slow. Now California is leading the way, but the rest of the world cannot take so long to implement change. “We do not have another 40 years,” he said. We have to act now.
Park Won Soon, Mayor of Seoul and President of ICLEI, joined the discussion at the opening session. He shared the new solar project in Seoul, City of Sunlight, and attributed the success that Seoul has seen in tackling climate change to the strength of his citizens. “Citizens are the answer, said Mayor Park. “You are the answer.”
Mayor Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh of Malmö, Sweden, emphasized the importance of integrating local and global goals. “Local governments and local action are central to the delivery of global goals,” said Mayor Jammeh. “What happens in the rest of the world has a direct impact on our city and our citizens and everything we do in Malmö also affects the world around us.”
It is clear that local and regional governments are critical in this movement – it is clear through the commitments they are making, the actions they are taking and the coalitions they are forming together and with their partners. They are setting the standard, advancing sustainable urban development and encouraging their national governments to raise climate ambitions, putting urban development at the center, while working alongside them in close partnership.
Momentum is building. This show of strength by local and regional governments is exemplified in the Bonn-Fiji Agreement, adopted by local and regional governments on 12 November 2017 at the Climate Summit of Local and Regional Leaders.
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