Throughout this week, ICLEI’s annual Daring Cities forum, hosted virtually in cooperation with the German city of Bonn, has explored in depth the need for innovative financing at all levels of government to tackle the climate crisis. Yesterday’s global leaders roundtable in particular highlighted the need for “multilevel and multi-actor collaboration for accelerating climate emergency finance.”
The roundtable convened nine leaders including mayors, ministers, and business professionals to discuss the challenges cities are facing and what can be done to further their development and resilience, specifically in regards to climate change.
These questions are paramount to our battle against global warming as cities are the epicentres of progress and innovation, producing 80% of the world’s GDP, whilst also being at the root of the climate crisis, responsible for 70% of our global GHG emissions.
This point is highlighted by Ingrid-Gabriela Hoven, member of the board for the German Development Cooperation Agency (GIZ), who further explained that in order for our approach to climate change to be effective, one-third of CO2 emission reduction needs to come from the local governmental level, one-third from the intermediate level, and one-third from national government.
Consequently, if efforts are not more actively engaged at the local level, we will be unable reach our collective goal of climate neutrality by 2050.
Since its inception in 2020, #DaringCities focused on catalyzing local #ClimateEmergency action. This year's edition will dive into why climate funds are often not accessible – even when they're there – looking into systematic changes to speed things up. https://t.co/6JRtRZ3oig
— Daring Cities (@daringcities) September 26, 2022
Unfortunately, we seem to be a long way off this one-third split, with only around 10% of the climate finance for urban cities’ adaptation and resilience reaching the local level in 2017-2018.
Whilst there are some efforts being made to provide cities with the money needed to cut emissions and become more resilient to climate change, such as EIB’s urban development loan, the key to the problem is governmental distribution of funding.
It is difficult for localities to gain funding to become more “green” since, as Bonn’s Mayor Katja Dörner explained at Daring Cities, in many countries including Germany, climate change investment at the local level is still voluntary, rather than mandatory, forcing competition for funding.
It was further suggested by Oliver Krischer, Minister for the Environment in the government of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, that climate change frequently ends up with a reduced budget as authorities interfere and direct the money elsewhere.
This is particularly problematic for cities like Bonn that are actively striving towards climate neutrality.
In fact, Dörner stated that she, alongside her local government, has laid out around 200 different measures as a roadmap to achieving climate neutrality by 2035. Due to the “complex and comprehensive” nature of this process, a drastic uptick in funding is required to enable action.
Dörner subsequently calls for a revised funding strategy at the federal level that names investment in climate measures at the local level as mandatory.
Pleased to address @DaringCities @ICLEI today. #Cities have key role to play in addressing the #ClimateEmergency and closing the emissions gap. Let’s build on the positive momentum of Daring Cities to push for progress at @COP27P and beyond. We will all gain so much! pic.twitter.com/Fz6vXSyOs6
— Ovais Sarmad (@OvaisSarmad) October 7, 2022
Abigail Binay, mayor of Makati, Philippines, continued these discussions by highlighting that it is not always the case that more climate change funding is required, but rather that the funding allotted should be used differently.
Binay explained that in the Philippines the national government is required to allocate 5% of the annual budget to the country’s response to climate change, i.e., how they recover from disasters like storms and typhoons.
However, Binay believes it would be far more effective to inject at least some of this funding into climate innovation and resilience. This would allow the country to use the money to become more environmentally conscious and better prepare itself for the symptoms of global warming, rather than to solely recover from the aftermaths.
Related Articles: Show Me (How to Get) the Money: Cities and Climate Finance | Cities and Climate Emergency Finance: What to Expect From This Year’s ‘Daring Cities’ Forum
UNFCCC Deputy Executive Secretary Ovais Sarmad closed the event with a pragmatic overview of our present situation and what is needed for progress.
He asserted that reducing GHG emissions by 45% is a “huge task” and therefore requires “consensus not division” to achieve. He further stressed that to remain within our 1.5°C goal, which is our climate “on life support,” GHGs at all levels need to be reduced.
They can demonstrate through their presence and active participation that climate truly is the top global priority that it must be. pic.twitter.com/EvRof5iH8r
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) October 4, 2022
It seems promising that actions will be taken to this end at COP27, which will be held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, in November.
Ayman Amin, Deputy Director of Egypt’s Department of Climate, Environment, and Sustainable Development provided this hope as he stated that this year the focus will move away from interpreting the Paris Agreement and instead be on action.
Though it is certainly disappointing to see that the question of cities and their funding is “not yet a solid item” on COP27’s formal agenda, the topic is promised to be addressed as part of the “informal track” which Amin describes as a number of initiatives and thematic days that will take place “from time to time” during the COP.
In particular, on 17 November, a new initiative “SURGE,” Sustainable Urban Resilience for the Next Generations, will be launched. ICLEI played a key role in formalising this initiative intended push for multilevel action, unlock the climate finance for urban cities, and accelerate innovation.
SURGE will be driven by five key elements:
- It will be locally led and culture positive;
- Approaches will be customised depending on local context;
- It will promote multilevel climate governance and climate planning;
- It will ensure the circular economy;
- It will promote the health sector and OneHealth as vital to climate resilience.
According to Amin, this new initiative has already been received very positively.
SURGE’s presentation at COP27 and its subsequent actioning could play a huge role in our journey towards climate neutrality. Indeed, this initiative, combined with the revised allocation of funding, could prove crucial in bettering our cities: the political, economic, and social centres of the world.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com — Featured Photo: Aerial Photo of City Commercial Buildings. Photo Credits: Pexels.