Tangible Ambition – How cities are moving towards 1.5°C and the benefits for their citizens’ health

Posted on January, 20 2020

WWF hosted an event where we focused on the “tangible ambition” already visible in cities. We began by showing how cities can achieve emission reductions consistent with the Paris Agreement, based on latest data from the Exponential Climate Action Roadmap

REN21 presented the latest findings on renewable energy adoption in cities in their Renewables in Cities: Global Status Report:
Zooming in from the big picture to tangible data from actual cities, WWF revealed early analysis from its One Planet City Challenge (OPCC) in which over 250 cities have had their climate plans and actions assessed for alignment against compatibility with 1.5°C of global warming. Initial results reveal that 30 cities have compatible actions and policies.
We assume cities are moving in the right direction on climate action, but we need data to confirm this. The OPCC works with cities to submit their data on a global platform, then explores how closely they align to the Paris Agreement and offers guidance to get there.
  • Jennifer Lenhart, Global Cities Lead, WWF
From big-picture research and data, we moved to the local level – more specifically, an ambitious post-industrial city and host for COP26, Glasgow, Scotland – who shared their commitment to ambitious climate action:
COP26 is a historic opportunity for us to lead on the issue of our times, to show the world that Glasgow really can be the city for our times. This is the century of the city and cities are best placed to get to grips with the global climate emergency, across transport, housing, heating and reversing our high-carbon pasts. In Glasgow we are determined to become the UK's first 'zero carbon city’ with a goal of net zero by 2030
  • Susan Aitken, Leader, Glasgow City Council
Cities work in partnership. And in Glasgow, this includes close collaboration with the energy provider Scottish Power, who shared advice on how best to promote ambition:
We have the technology to meet the necessary targets – governments just need to make better use of the policy levers available. Regulators should ensure flexibility in regulatory frameworks to allow anticipatory investment in our network infrastructure to cope with the electric revolution. Decisions about decarbonisation priorities should be devolved to local authorities
-        Hazel Gulliver, Head of Scotland and EU Policy, Scottish Power
COP25 was a Chilean/ Latin American COP, and local leaders in Chile also demonstrate tangible action. In a video message, Gonzalo Durán, Mayor of Independencia, Chile outlined his city’s approach of placing sustainability and citizens at the core of urban planning. This includes prioritising pedestrians in 95% of streets, incentivizing electric bicycles, creating park avenues through planting 16000 trees over the next 2 years and reducing the local government’s own emissions with EVs and LED lighting. They are also creating safe neighbourhoods and walking routes on the basis that places that are safe for children are safer for everyone – and better for the environment.
It is important to remember that local climate action has crucial co-benefits. World Health Organisation and WWF highlighted these co-benefits to people’s health, including through prioritising active transport options and promoting renewable energy and green spaces in cities, which can address both the climate crisis and linked air pollution crisis.

Link to COP25 Event at the Panda Hub:
WWF event with focus on the “tangible ambition” already visible in cities