Five things cities want to see in a Paris climate agreement

cop21 solutions exhibit
Solutions COP21 at Grand Palais during the COP21 climate summit in Paris. City mayors arrived in Paris to network and draw inspiration from what other cities are doing on climate action. Image: Mark Dixon, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Paris climate negotiations have drawn a significant contingent of mayors and other local authorities from around the world.

In part this is to show off the significant steps that cities are already doing to bring down their emissions, increase their energy efficiency and otherwise help to keep the world’s warming within levels deemed acceptable.

These mayors have also come to the French capital to network. They’re looking to draw inspiration from what other cities are doing on climate action, while also trying to search out funding opportunities to bring projects already underway and bold new ideas to scale.

To a great extent, however, these mayors are here in Paris to build political will — to show national negotiators and ministers that a groundswell of public support for action has already grown back home.This is an important role, but what specifics are cities looking for from any eventual Paris agreement?

Citiscope has been talking to numerous local officials on the sidelines of the talks, and here are a few elements that have cropped up repeatedly.

1. Recognize cities and local authorities

“They have to send the message that if you want any degree of success, it is necessary to ensure the presence of cities at the table.” — Denis Coderre, Mayor of Montréal

2. Concrete emissions reduction

“In the first place, [I want to see] concrete commitments from the emitting countries for effective reduction of C02 in the coming years.” — Ada Calau, Mayor of Barcelona

3. A binding agreement

“This agreement should include some binding articles. And if central governments make an agreement, the implementation is in the hands of the local governments and cities.” — Park Won-soon, Mayor of Seoul and President of ICLEI

4. A global approach to finance

“I believe it’s very important not only to exchange ideas but to receive financing. We need the means — and I’m not just thinking from Europe, but from the world in general.” — Manuela Carmena, Mayor of Madrid

5. Carbon tax

“A carbon tax would change everything. It would bring an amazing suite of innovation and energy. We are already eventually moving to a new energy economy. If we wait until Miami is underwater, it’s too late.” — Matt Appelbaum, Mayor of Boulder, United States

Citiscope is a nonprofit news outlet that covers innovations in cities around the world. More at Citiscope. org.

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