COP25: cities are no longer waiting around for nations, Milan’s mayor says

(EurActiv, 9 Dec 2019) Because there is still a small number of nations blocking progress in implementing the Paris Agreement, and cities already feel their impact of climate change, they are ready to take the lead in fighting global warming, Milan’s mayor and C40 network Vice-Chairman Giuseppe Sala told EURACTIV in an interview.

What are the cities’ expectations of this COP?

First and foremost, I answer as an individual citizen who is concerned about the future of life on our planet. The science is absolutely clear that if we continue on our current path, global temperature rise will be 3 or 4°C above the pre-industrial average. That will cause untold suffering for hundreds of millions of people around the world. We already see the signs of climate crisis with rising seas, extreme weather and natural disasters, floods, droughts, wildfires. So my expectation is that nation-states and their negotiators in Madrid will match their commitments to their rhetoric and actually deliver a meaningful outcome that helps avert catastrophic climate change. As a mayor, I expect them to learn from the climate action they see already being delivered in the world’s cities. We have shown it is possible to collaborate across borders, through networks like C40 cities, and deliver inclusive climate action that cuts emissions in line with the scientific evidence. We can tackle climate change, address inequality and build sustainable and healthy communities across our cities.

However, I am also a realist. I see that a small number of nations, backed by powerful vested interests and lobbies, are blocking meaningful progress. That is why cities aren’t waiting around for nations any more. If they won’t lead, then mayors will.

How meaningful is the European Green Deal for cities?

I congratulate Commission President von der Leyen for putting a European Green Deal at the very heart of her policy platform. She recognises, as so many of us do, the scale of the threat posed by climate change, but also the opportunity ahead for protecting livelihoods, helping end poverty, improving lives and building more equitable societies.

I have no doubt that the reason we are seeing such clear commitments from politicians across the political spectrum is because of the impact made by the young people protesting on the streets of our cities. In that sense, the European Green Deal emanates from cities and if it succeeds, as I believe it must, then we will see its greatest impact in our cities.

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EurActiv, 9 Dec 2019: COP25: cities are no longer waiting around for nations, Milan’s mayor says