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Cities are central in Climate Issues by Anne Hidalgo

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Less than twelve months have passed since U.N. Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, Mike Bloomberg and I welcomed 1,000 mayors at Paris City Hall, at the height of the COP21 Climate negotiations. The progress made in those months to tackle the global threat of climate change has been amazing to watch. The collective voice of cities was essential in showing the way to national leaders to deliver the bold Paris Agreement on climate change. Having waited 20 years for such a global commitment to tackle climate change, it is inspiring to see that it will come into force less than a year after it was agreed. This is a genuinely ambitious agreement that offers the best possible hope of averting climate change.

Just as they were key to securing the Paris Agreement, cities will be central to the efforts to deliver it. For more than a decade, mayors have been providing global leadership on climate change through common platforms and networks for declaring commitments and joining action like the C40 and the Global Covenant of Mayors. This year I was honoured to be elected chair of C40 and you can count on me to put everything in my power to deliver this key agreement to our future.

We know that cities are responsible for more than 70% of global emissions. By 2050, more than two thirds of the world population will live in cities. C40, represents 86 of the world's greatest cities such as London, New York, Tokyo, Mexico and Beijing, and more than 650 million citizens, is the right network to lead the effort to tackle climate change. C40 cities have already taken more than 10,000 actions since 2009 and by continuing on a low carbon path, can avoid locking in 45 GtCO2 by 2030. That is equivalent to the annual emissions of the United Kingdom!

From flooding to heatwaves, mayors are responding to the effects of climate change every day. This is why mayors are such crucial leaders. As mayors, we understand what actions need to be taken to deliver a sustainable, equitable and healthy future for our citizens. In Paris, we are banning the most polluting cars from the city and pedestrianised the banks of the river Seine as part of our bold plans to tackle air pollution. Paris is building on its world famous cycle hire scheme to further creating a city that prioritises sustainable transports.

Let's also consider something instrumental: [cities are uniquely adept at sharing ideas and data that works, which is at the heart of the success of the C40 network.] Since Paris introduced the Velib cycle hire scheme, 43 C40 cities have now launched cycle hire programmes!

But cities cannot tackle climate change alone. Several barriers to effective action are highly relevant to the interaction of cities with the media and the private sector, including the challenge of securing investment for sustainable projects and the challenge of communicating their benefits to our citizens.

Paris is proud to be amongst the most welcoming cities in the world for start-ups and innovation and we recognise the pivotal role that organisations have to play in helping us secure a sustainable future. Chinese cities such as Wuhan and Nanjing have some of the largest electric bus fleets anywhere in the world. I am determined to share our lessons with cities across the C40 as well as learn from others.

The financial media and the private sector have a crucial role to play in holding national governments and international financial organisations to account for their assurances to empower city authorities. Cities, particularly in the global south, often struggle to secure financial investment for sustainable infrastructure that is crucial in securing low carbon development. C40 recently launched a call to finance urban projects, calling for six urgent reforms that if implemented would help create a sustainable future for millions of citizens. These include reforms to development banks and direct access for cities to international climate funds.

The media also has a key role to play in reframing climate change as an issue that affects every aspect of life in cities. It is increasingly clear that action on climate change is also directly linked to social equity, public health and economic growth. The most successful cities of the future will be those that transition first to low carbon development. And those stories have not yet been properly told.

These issues will be central to the C40 Mayors Summit in Mexico City from November 30th to December 2nd. The summit will bring together the world's most influential mayors, with business leaders, international media and climate experts to present their common goals for a sustainable future.

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