The growing importance of cities as drivers of climate change is hard to miss at COP 21 in Paris, as the conference kicks off its first-ever “Cities Day” today and with climate celebrities Leonardo di Caprio and Robert Redford making a meeting with city leaders a top priority on their agenda. Recognizing this, the World Bank is looking to expand its support to cities in achieving a sustainable, resilient, and lower carbon path.
“The contrast between local and national politicians in Paris for the UN Climate Change Conference has been stark,” notes reporter John Vidal in The Guardian. “What it shows is that much of the power to reduce climate emissions lies now with cities, not national governments.”
Cities are where the emissions are, responsible for more than 70 percent of energy consumption and energy-related greenhouse gases. During the Paris COP, more than 450 cities representing a total of 1 billion people have pledged to reduce emissions by more than 50 percent over about 15 years.
In developing countries – which account for 90 percent of urban growth – there is a window of opportunity to build climate-smart cities. The State of the City Climate Finance report, released at COP 21, which includes input from the World Bank, highlights the challenges these countries face and proposes both innovative and traditional solutions.
“We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build livable, resilient, low-carbon cities,” said Laura Tuck, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development. “We must seize the opportunity. Too many cities today are facing a critical shortage in tapping into the finance they need.”