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Cities are leading the way in tackling the climate emergency while national governments delay

by LLB political Reporter
11th Nov 21 10:30 am

Speaking from the conference floor on Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day at COP26 the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will make the case that compared to the slow nature of national governments, cities have proven to be more progressive and responsive to tackling the climate emergency. The Mayor will argue that national governments need to give cities the power and funding they need to meet their ambitious targets of net zero by 2030, which will help deliver national targets too.

He will say that for years, climate change deniers have attempted to thwart climate action. But today the biggest obstacle to reducing our carbon emissions isn’t the climate change deniers, it’s the delayers. It’s the national governments that can talk a good game, but then refuse to put in place the plans, action or funding we desperately need.

He will also raise concerns that we have seen yet more examples of this at COP26 and send a message to the UK government and other nation states and businesses around the world that these delaying tactics must stop.  He will say we need urgent action now – not in 20 or 30 years’ time.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan will also lead a meeting of other international mayors with UN Secretary General, António Guterres, to discuss the critical role of cities in rapidly driving down emissions.

In London, the Mayor has already taken action through the introduction of the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone, which has helped reduce pollution in central London by nearly half at the same time as helping to reduce carbon emissions.  On 25 October, the zone expanded up to the north and south circular, helping almost four million Londoners to breathe cleaner air, with expectations that it will reduce road transport NOx emissions by around 30 per cent.

The Mayor has also: planted 340,000 trees since 2016; introduced over 500 zero emission buses; committed to making London a zero-carbon city by 2030, faster than any comparable city; developed a climate action plan that is compatible with the highest ambition of the Paris Agreement. Through his London Plan the Mayor has achieved carbon emission reductions of almost 50 per cent more than set by building regulations.

As the new chair of C40 cities, an organisation of 97 cities across the glove that represent over 700 million people and a quarter of the global economy, Sadiq has committed to supporting cities around the world to roll out similar bold action to address emissions and air pollution. He has made clear that a just transition, with support for cities in the Global South, is vital – and has personally committed to directing a record two-thirds of the C40 budget towards Global South cities.

Today, C40 announced that an international alliance of investors have pledged $1bn for zero-emission buses in Latin America. Zero-emission buses have been a crucial part of Sadiq’s net zero plans in London. Currently, Latin America has nearly 2,500 electric buses, preventing the release of over 255,000 tons of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere each year. 2000 more are expected to be deployed in the coming year.

Today at COP26 in Glasgow, London Mayor and C40 chair Sadiq Khan is expected to say, “For years, climate change deniers have attempted to thwart climate action. But today the biggest obstacle to reducing our carbon emissions isn’t the climate change deniers, it’s the delayers. It’s the national governments that can talk a good game, but then refuse to put in place the plans, action or funding we desperately need.

“Unfortunately, we have seen yet more examples of this at COP26. So my message to the UK government and other nation states and businesses around the world is that these delaying tactics must stop. The time for empty rhetoric and hollow gestures is over. We need urgent action now – not in 20 or 30 years’ time.

“When you compare national governments to cities over recent years, the difference when it comes to taking bold climate action is striking. It’s night versus day. It’s the difference between delayers versus doers.

“Compared to the slow nature of national governments, it’s our cities that have proven to be more nimble, progressive and responsive to the needs of our citizens, rising to the challenge.

“As Mayor, I’m determined to continue leading this charge and for London to become the greenest city in the world – driving green innovation and jobs as well as pioneering the solutions to decarbonise our transport system and economy. As the new Chair of C40, I want to help other cities do the same, working together to unleash the power and potential that cities have to make a meaningful difference in this fight for our future.”

With public transport use needing to double in cities worldwide to keep to the 1.5C warming limit, one of the major actions that transport authorities can take to decarbonise their services is to move away from using fossil fuels.

In London, Transport for London (TfL) has already significantly invested in the zero-emission bus industry, with 950 zero-emission buses on the road or on order. With the market now more mature and expanding in the UK, TfL can guarantee that it will only purchase new zero-emission buses, so that a fully zero-emission bus network can be delivered three years earlier than previously planned in 2034.

However, with Government support TfL could achieve a fully zero-emission fleet by 2030.  Making London’s buses zero-emission will save four million tonnes of carbon by 2037, moving the date forward to 2030 would save an additional one million tonnes.

Polly Billington, Chief Executive of UK100, a network of local leaders, said: “Local leaders who’ve signed the UK100 pledge want to go further and faster to reach Net Zero ahead of the national target and are making that pledge a reality in their communities. We hope they can inspire other leaders in the UK and across the world to accelerate toward a zero carbon society. The public wants our politicians to stop delaying and act decisively to address the climate crisis.”

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