In October 2005, representatives of 18 leading world cities met in London to discuss joining forces to tackle global warming and climate change.
The representatives saw the need for action and cooperation on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pledged to work together towards achieving that goal.
At the end of the conference, a communiqué was signed which recognised the need for cities to take action and to cooperate on reducing climate emissions.
The cities also promised a number of action points, including most notably the creation of procurement policies and alliances to accelerate the uptake of climate-friendly technologies and influence the market place.
Partnering with the Clinton Foundation
In August 2006, the initiative was further strengthened when former President Clinton and the former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone announced a partnership between the Clinton Climate Initiative and the Large Cities Climate Leadership Group (since then renamed "C40"). This new partnership pledged to reduce carbon emissions and increase energy efficiency in large cities across the world.
What is the relationship between climate change and cities?
Cities cover less than one per cent of the earth's surface but are disproportionately responsible for causing climate change.
Currently, around 50 per cent of the world’s population live in cities (set to reach 60 per cent by 2030). Yet cities and urban areas consume some 75 per cent of the world's energy and are responsible for up to 75 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.
So a majority of the world's energy consumption either occurs in cities or as a direct result of the way that cities function (eg through transport of goods to points of consumption in cities).
Cities bear a large responsibility for causing climate change and are therefore key to alleviating climate change. We have to move from a high energy-use, wasteful economic model to one that conserves energy and minimises waste. In other words we have to be more efficient.
How are cities affected by climate change?
The effects of climate change are often more keenly felt in cities, eg the Urban Heat Island effect. Since many of the world's major cities are very close to the sea, rising sea levels are a major threat.
The concentration of resources in cities can be a useful weapon in fighting climate change. Cities are often centres of new thinking and policy innovation – cities are in a great position to lead the way for others to follow. Novel approaches can be developed that if successful can be rolled out to other cities.