On June 29th, the Global Covenant of Mayors in the Americas held an event to identify solutions and accelerate local climate actions at the World Urban Forum 11, in Katowice, Poland.
The session “Intermediary cities towards net-zero: Accelerating ambitious climate action in small; medium-sized municipalities committed” provided a space for dialogue between cities in the US, Canada, and Latin America identifying relevant solutions to enable and accelerate local climate action in smaller municipalities towards net-zero. This session followed up on the dialogue initiated with a group of intermediary cities from the American continent at COP26, focusing on their net-zero commitments and actions to inspire more small and intermediary cities to take ambitious climate action.
Andy Deacon, Co-director of the Global Covenant of Mayors, pointed out that small and medium-sized cities find it difficult to carry out actions in relation to the environment due to a lack of resources: “in order for the goals to be met, civil society, entrepreneurs, environmental organizations, and governments together at the GCoM need to come together. Only in this way will we be able to combat today’s environmental problems”, defended.
Some Covenant cities had the opportunity to present their climate plans and explain how they are dealing with their environmental issues. The mayor of the city of Totoras, Argentina, Maria Guadalupe Lanatti, reviewed the local climate plan (2021-2030) and in her message to other cities she pointed out the need for climate action: “First I want to say that it is urgent, it is today, it is now. We must make the political decision to move forward on environmental issues, we cannot wait”.
Despite being a small city, Ferndale, Michigan, United States, has a local climate plan with well-defined goals. By 2030 it is expected to reduce gas emissions in the city by up to 63%. Another interesting goal cited by the mayor, Melanie Piana, is to make housing 100% efficient, i.e., to reduce unnecessary energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and the demand for non-renewable resources. “Efficient housing provides more sustainable living conditions and allows us to save a fairly significant amount of money”, explained Piana.
The city of Tópaga, Colombia, is one of South America’s leaders in renewable energy implementations. Mayor Alvaro Henry, in conjunction with the Urban LEDS project, funded by UN-Habitat , has implemented photovoltaic cells – a device made of semiconductor material, fundamental in this conversion process – on about 10 public buildings in the city to reduce the cost of electricity and also decrease greenhouse gas emissions. “Solar energy helps in decarbonization by not emitting any pollutant gas, offering an improvement in air quality as a whole,” explained the mayor.
In the last presentation, the mayor of Guelph, Canada, Cam Guthrie, presented some figures and future plans for the Canadian city. Currently, more than a quarter of all the energy used by the city comes from renewable sources. By further conserving energy and choosing cleaner sources, Guelph has a plan to reduce carbon emissions and use 100 percent renewable energy for all facilities, fleet and operations by 2050. “In addition to using less fuel and energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Guelph is working to ensure our community is prepared to withstand and recover from the effects of climate change”, stated Guthrie.
See the event on YouTube:
World Urban Forum
The World Urban Forum (WUF) is the premier global conference on sustainable urbanization. The WUF was established in 2001 by the United Nations to examine one of the most pressing issues facing the world today: rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies, climate change and policies.
The theme of WUF11, Transforming our Cities for a Better Urban Future, provides greater insights and clarity on the future of cities based on existing trends, challenges and opportunities, as well as suggest ways cities can be better prepared to address future pandemics and a wide range of other shocks.
WUF11 was co-organized by UN-Habitat, Poland’s Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy and the Municipal Office of Katowice.