Creating Sustainable Cities

Anne Hidalgo

Mayor of Paris and Co-host of the Climate Summit for Local Leaders

Climate change endangers people’s health and poses serious economic threats. Yet by protecting the environment, we not only invest in the future but we also bring immediate public health and economic benefits. By acting boldly to address the perils of climate change, cities can improve millions of lives today—and build a safer, healthier future for the generations to come.

Cities around the world are taking the lead in the battle against climate change, and, in doing so, are determining the course of our planet’s future. Cities are more agile than national governments—cities have immediacy in their relationship to the impacts of climate change. They can take bolder actions and can see the benefits of climate action directly.

Here in Paris we introduced a Climate Action Plan unanimously approved by the Council of Paris in 2007, updated in 2012, committing our city to decrease its overall emissions by 75 percent in 2050 compared to 2004. In this perspective, Paris implements ambitious programs of construction of green buildings and retrofitting of municipal and privately owned buildings, as part of a major energy saving initiative.

On transportation, Paris is expanding Autolib’, an electric car sharing system inspired by the success of the Parisian bicycle sharing system Velib’. Our city also announced a major plan to ban diesel cars from Paris by 2020 and an adaptation and resilience strategy for 2015 through 2020.

City leaders have already emerged through their commitment to the Compact of Mayors and their participation in COP21 at the Climate Summit for Local Leaders hosted by the City of Paris and Michael Bloomberg, UN Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change. The Summit built on the ideas and efforts of the Compact of Mayors, which was established in 2014 by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Michael Bloomberg, in partnership with city-networks, to create pathways for a data driven framework for reducing local greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing resilience to climate change, while tracking their progress transparently. Currently more than 460 cities around the world are committed to the Compact of Mayors representing over five percent of the global population.

The Climate Summit for Local Leaders was instrumental in providing mayors from all over the world who are taking action in their community with the opportunity to come together to collaborate on policy, public engagement strategies and professional development to promote sustainability and progressive leadership. As a result, these leaders went back to their communities with a stronger commitment to implementing climate solutions, setting targets, and measuring progress.

As we turn toward implementing the Paris Agreement, we must recognize that climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to society and the planet and requires the largest possible cooperation by all countries and the greatest possible action by all cities.

We also need to make sure mayors continue to look outward, to commit to the Compact of Mayors and work with cities near and far to reach the emissions standards set by the Paris Agreement and help to fill the gaps left by national commitments.

Our world faces many serious environmental challenges. We can meet them—but only if we act now.