Happy Birthday C40!

First published: Thursday, 24 September 2015

The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, now in its 10th year, connects more than 75 of the world’s greatest cities, representing 550+ million people and one quarter of the global economy. Here Matthew Pencharz, Deputy Mayor of London for Environment & Energy, shares the success of London over the past 10 years whilst working with C40.

London’s government is very proud of the role it played in the founding of C40and how we have helped shape its development over the last decade. Just as we are proud of being the first city to build a GHG inventory, develop a climate change adaptation strategy, introduce a carbon based metric for waste management activity and, more recently, develop a method of measuring our scope 3 emissions.

With the world urbanising at an astonishing pace: it is in cities where people are generally wealthier and healthier with more social opportunities, which are of course the reasons people are moving to them. And cities are also doing the most to meet the climate change challenge.

While London’s demographic growth is small compared to many in the developing world, we are currently growing the fastest in our history – at over 100,000 new Londoners a year. Since C40 was founded a decade ago, our population has increased by well over a million, our economy has grown by around well over 25 per cent but our carbon emissions are down 16 per cent. We have shown – along with many other members of C40 – that there is absolutely no contradiction between economic and population growth and a reduction in carbon emissions.

We are delivering programmes to address emissions in all sectors and have a great deal of experience – both positive and negative – to share with our fellow cities. And that’s the beauty of C40: why should we reinvent the wheel over and over again? Yes our cities are different, the governance structures are different, what might be deliverable is different, but we share many of the same problems – how to grow our economics, improve residents’ quality of life and reduce our environmental impact - and the solutions are often transferable.

C40 helped us to develop a number of our programmes, which are now delivering emissions reduction at scale. For example, C40 helped us with our RE:FIT programme, which provides organisations with expert support to get retrofit projects in public buildings up, running and implemented with a framework of suppliers to make procurement quicker and easier. RE:FIT has supported the retrofit of 470 buildings, mitigating 96,400tCO2. It has won numerous awards and the UK Government has been rolling out the concept across the country.

London’s government has relatively weak powers to mandate owners and tenants to install energy efficiency measures in commercial buildings; so we worked with C40, who helped us by comparing what had worked in other cities, to develop the Mayor’s Business Energy Challenge. This is a call to action, recognition and competition for London’s corporates to reduce their energy intensity, helping us to meet our carbon mitigation targets and they to become more resource efficient improving their bottom line.

We are leading the Low Emission Vehicle Network to deliver more cleaner vehicles in our public transport fleets and providing the supporting infrastructure we need. In addition to reducing CO2 emissions these new vehicles help significant improve air quality. However, the capital cost for cleaner technologies has remained stubbornly high. In June we hosted a Clean Bus Summit at City Hall and stated that the 24 cities who signed up to the C40 Clean Bus Declaration are a market for 40,000 new clean buses – be they hybrid, electric, hydrogen or other low emission technologies – by 2020. This helps to create certainty for the manufacturers, reducing their development risk, driving economies of scale to produce cleaner buses at a price where the short payback on the investment becomes a no brainer for any city authority. Already since the Summit, we have seen costs coming down for some of these buses by 10 per cent.

These are just a few examples of what C40 has delivered from a London perspective. C40 is showing the world leadership and practical results from our networks. Through the Compact of Mayors and our wider city diplomacy programme we have forced the door ajar for cities at the Paris Climate Conference to enter the conversation: to show that addressing climate change doesn’t mean becoming uncompetitive and slowing the economy.

It’s been a great first decade. I have no doubt that the next one will see C40 continuing to prove to leaders, residents and businesses how we can grow wealthier, healthier and more sustainable cities; how we can capture the co-benefits of taking climate action such as improving air quality, having better green space to improve quality of life and the offer the city gives for residents, businesses, visitors and investors.

Happy 10th birthday C40 – see you all in Paris.

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