Few days before Donald Trump picked Scot Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general and a close ally of the fossil fuel industry, to run the Environmental Protection Agency, C40, a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change, released its new report Deadlines 2020.
The report outlines what is needed from C40 and cities, in general, to deliver the ambition of the Paris Agreement, through 2020 and beyond. The overriding and deeply significant finding of the work is that the next 4 years will determine whether or not the world’s megacities can deliver their part of the ambition of the Paris Agreement. Without action by cities the Paris Agreement can not realistically be delivered. The business-as-usual path of C40 cities’ emissions needs to ‘bend’ from an increase of 35% by 2020, to peak at only a further 5% higher than current emissions. This “bending of the curve” is required now to ensure that in the coming decades the necessary reductions remain feasible, given that actions can take many years to mature and reach full scale. To remain within a 1.5 degree temperature rise, average per capita emissions across C40 cities need to drop from over 5 tCO2e per capita today to around 2.9 tCO2e per capita by 2030. If the action pathway outlined in this document is pioneered by C40 cities, and then adopted by cities globally, action within urban areas would deliver around 40% of the savings needed to achieve the ambition of the Paris Agreement. Cities are therefore critical to delivering a climate safe future.
The report’s key-message is simple and powerful. Climate change is the biggest challenge ever faced by humanity. But humanity is more capable than ever to face it, as long as it understands the urgency and acts according specific, very tight deadlines. I strongly suggest my readers to go though the report, I believe it is a very important document for all those involved in climate change policies.
In addition, I was really happy to see that waste management is considered one of the 5 key paths towards substantial reduction of GHGs. The most important aspect is that waste management improvements and the shift towards the circular economy are considered one of the most “low hanging fruits”, comparing to other activities (like changing the buildings CO2 footprint) that require decades to be prepared and implemented.