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Accelerating transition: How cities and regions make a difference

The C-Track 50 project was one of the co-organisers of a side event during the 25th Conference of the Parties of the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25) last December in Madrid, Spain. The session of 7 December 2019 entitled “Accelerating transition: How cities and regions make a difference”, which took place in the EU pavilion, was co-organised by C-Track 50 project partner ICLEI Europe, the City of Cascais in Portugal, the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra and the European Committee of the Regions.

During 1,5 hours, speakers and participants discussed the importance of close cooperation among all levels of government and civil society to achieve carbon neutrality and reach the goals of the Paris Agreement - the landmark result of COP21 in Paris. City representatives reported first-hand on the most effective and cost-efficient solutions for emissions reductions they put in place on a local level and whether scaling up existing climate solutions was enough to reach this goal.

The 53 participants also had a lively discussion about what kind of governance framework is needed to support the transition and how cities’ climate mitigation efforts can be accounted for systematically, for example in national reporting (e.g. NDCs).

One of the conclusions of the session was that the success of transition depends on the ability to scale-up low-carbon solutions, and that this will only be accomplished through involving sub-national authorities and strengthening multi-level collaboration.

Unfortunately, none of the official decisions resulting from COP25 contained any reference to the role of local and regional governments or to multi-level collaboration. However, around 400 cities and regional governments created the Climate Ambition Alliance, which C-Track 50 project partner ICLEI is a part of. The group is determined to follow the Paris Agreement and the IPCC recommendations to tackle climate change. Among those are 160 cities and regions that can be considered as pioneers of climate ambition, as they already adopted climate neutrality targets for 2050.

So hopes are permitted that together we can raise the climate ambition and make the next Climate Conference, which will take place in Glasgow in 2020, one of multilevel action - as incoming COP26 President Designate Claire Perry O´Neil said during COP25.

For a hands-on analysis of COP25 from a local government point of view, read this blog post by Yunus Arikan, coordinator of ICLEI's global policy and advocacy, and focal point of the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) Constituency to the UNFCCC.