Friends of Carbon Copy: Climate Action


In this new year that leads up to COP26 in Glasgow, Carbon Copy is excited to collaborate with Climate Action, a high-profile organisation building partnerships between government, businesses and public bodies to accelerate international sustainable development.

Postponing COP26, the most important climate negotiations since the Paris agreement, was unfortunately inevitable given the health crisis the world faced in 2020. But while the summit has been delayed, action on the climate emergency cannot be put on hold. Paradoxically, what has changed is the need for us to act more locally, everywhere.

A sea change occurred back in 2015 with the massive presence of city mayors at COP21 and the unprecedented number of events that focused specifically on cities. Together, cities consume 75% of the world’s natural resources, 80% of the global energy supply and produce approximately 75% of the global carbon emissions. Simply put, cities have a central role to play in implementing any international agreement, in terms of mitigation, adaptation, capacity building and technology transfer.

In a way, modern cities have dual nationalities. They have a civic sense of duty towards their local communities as well as a cultural sense of belonging to a more imaginary national community. This focus between citizenship and national identity is in flux as many cities are turning decisively to their local communities as their civic powers grow. This shift in outlook is propelled by three nearly irreversible phenomena: urbanisation, devolution and empowerment. As the United Nations noted in a World City Report, what is most astonishing is how so many nations around the world are moving in the same direction:

As cities grow, and spread out over the land, they have been the recipients of a worldwide trend to devolve power from the national to the local level… The fact that so many states have chosen to move along the path of decentralization constitutes a remarkable phenomenon.

Power is inexorably shifting from being concentrated in the past to becoming diffuse in the future. We are part of a virtuous cycle: empowerment leads to more local decision-making, that accelerates greater decentralisation, that results in more empowerment locally.

We have seen this happen across the UK regarding local leadership on the climate crisis. Bristol City Council became the first local authority to declare a climate emergency, in November 2018. Since then, almost three-quarters of all principal councils have followed suit. The majority of these councils have declared a target date of 2030 to achieve net-zero carbon emissions locally, twenty years ahead of the national 2050 target. The momentum and potential for leading change at a sub-national level is an incredible force.

In thinking about how to address climate change internationally, it is also necessary to harmonise the efforts of cities and local authorities sub-nationally. Carbon Copy is looking forward to working alongside Climate Action in the lead up to COP26 and in exploring new ways to embed action at all levels.

Photo by Josh Calabrese on Unsplash

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