COP28, the baton has been passed to cities and local authorities
COP28,  the baton has been passed to cities and local authorities

COP28, the baton has been passed to cities and local authorities

Local authorities are at the forefront of developing resilience.
RE+D magazine

Ministers from more than 40 governments across the world have gathered in the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, ongoing in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. In this context, a series of partnerships was announced by the COP28 Presidency, with the aim of accelerating the transition to zero carbon emissions and the cities' resilience to climate change.

Cities are once again at the center of discussions at this year's COP28, with discussions revolving around urbanisation, the built environment and transport. Given that the majority the population worldwide lives in cities and that they are responsible for more than 70% of carbon dioxide emissions, it is now well understood that taking immediate action could reduce emissions to almost zero.

However, financing remains a critical issue, with less than a third of climate finance been allocated to adaptation and resilience, and just 10% reaching the local governance level.

"Achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and maintaining the 1.5°C target depends on the support of the world's governments and local authorities," said COP28 President Dr. Al Jaber. That is why, he added, COP28 aims to empower leaders and communities, through new initiatives that recognize and support the important roles that cities and their leaders can play in tackling climate change.

An indication of the great mobilization of local authorities was the unprecedented participation of mayors and regional authorities in the second Ministerial Conference on the Urban Climate, which was co-organized with the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat), unprecedented in any COP process.

As a result of the strong presence of cities at this year's COP comes the 10-point declaration announced by the Conference participants, with an emphasis on strengthening the inclusion of local authorities in the decision-making process on climate change, facilitating their access to finance on climate and in promoting multi-level relationships to implement ambitious climate actions.

At the same time, the Local Climate Action Summit (LCAS), a co-organization of the COP28 Presidency and Bloomberg Philanthropies, which for the first time brought together more than 500 local leaders and announced new investments for the climate with recipient cities, amounting to almost $500 million.

"The baton has been passed" to cities and local authorities

A number of initiatives targeting cities and buildings came as a result of the progress of this year's COP28, including:

  • “Buildings Breakthrough”, which was launched with the support of 27 countries, led by France and Morocco. The partnership aims to make near-zero and sustainable buildings mainstream by 2030, considering that the building sector alone accounts for almost 40% of global energy-related CO2 emissions, 50% of exported materials and a third of global waste.
  • “Cement and Concrete Breakthrough” was initiated by Canada and the United Arab Emirates, with support from countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Japan and Germany. The initiative strives to make clean cement the preferred choice in global markets, with near-zero emission cement production established worldwide by 2030.
  • "Waste to Zero", a voluntary coalition made up of governments at all levels, NGOs and the private sector, aims to decarbonise the waste management sector and turn waste into useful resources.
  • “Waste MAP”, which is the first global platform - Observatory that uses satellite tracking to measure methane emissions from waste. Local governments and NGOs can use the platform to detect and mitigate methane emissions, and the platform is expected to be installed in 20 megacities that are home to a total of over 100 million people.

In addition, two new programs are coming to support the acceleration of the adoption of 15-minute city planning policies and to measure their impact. C40, a network of nearly 100 mayors of the world's leading cities, is stepping up action to accelerate the adoption of the 15-Minute City - cities that are highly liveable, walkable and people-oriented. At the same time, the Green and Thriving Neighborhoods program created in collaboration with Urban Partners provides support to more than 40 cities to turn the 15MC into reality through the implementation of specific pilot projects.

Finally, Buildings Breakthrough, Cement Breakthrough and the Forest & Climate Leaders' Partnership have announced their partnership under Greening Construction with Sustainable Wood, aiming to unlock intergovernmental and multi-level collaboration by offering national governments and other stakeholders a framework to rapidly transform the building sector, increasing mitigation, adaptation and resilience to climate change.