Mark Watts, C40 Executive Director kicks off our 10th anniversary year.
In 2005, then-Mayor of London Ken Livingstone brought together 18 mayors from some of the world’s largest urban centers to determine how they could work together to cut carbon emissions and lead on global climate action. It was prompted by Mayor Livingstone’s own efforts to devise a London climate action plan, and the benefit his team gained from contacting some of what was then a small group of cities that were taking similar action.
This year, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the city network that this meeting catalyzed: the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. I am proud to have helped create C40 back in 2005, as an advisor to Mayor Livingstone, and prouder still to serve as C40’s Executive Director today. It is staggering to see how the organization has grown and evolved over the past decade. With 70 city members across the globe, C40 represents over half a billion people and more than one-fifth of global GDP.
Unfortunately, attempts to agree an inter-governmental climate treaty have made less progress over the past ten years. We hope that will change at the Paris COP21 this year. But throughout all the failed talks, cities have been acting to build sustainable, low carbon communities, and proving that decoupling economic growth from environmental pollution is possible.
Conversations facilitated in C40 workshops and at our Mayors Summits have resulted in more than 8,000 concrete actions taken on the ground to combat climate change. When one city implements a successful strategy, C40 helps other cities follow suit. Our research shows that great ideas spread from city to city: in just two years, the number of C40 cities with bus rapid transit (BRT) jumped from 11 to 35, cycle hire programmes leaped from 6 to 36 cities, and the percentage of cities that invest in low energy lighting nearly doubled.
During the year ahead, we look forward to celebrating 10 Years of Results by sharing our successes with you, and previewing what excites us about the future of climate action. In the run up to Paris in December, we have a unique opportunity to amplify our message that cities are drivers of progress and innovation, and can help nations set – and meet – the aggressive national GHG targets so urgently required.