Changing Planet

COP21 Video Blog Series: Jesper Nygård, CEO of Realdania, on why cities are critical to tackling climate change

At the start of December 2015, all eyes were on Paris for the COP21 climate negotiations, regarded by many as a pivotal moment in determining global climate action. C40 was fortunate to be there on the ground to help showcase innovative and effective climate actions taking place in the world’s cities. Through a series of fantastic events at Paris City Hall, Le Bourget and other iconic locations around the city, mayors from around the world gathered to celebrate successful projects and plans, share their stories and knowledge, voice their ideas, and establish opportunities for action over the next 5 years and beyond.

In the video above, Realdania CEO Jesper Nygård tells C40 why cities are best placed to take bold and effective action on climate change.

Watch more videos in the ‘COP21 Video Blog’ series here.

The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) is a network of large and engaged cities from around the world committed to implementing meaningful and sustainable climate-related actions locally that will help address climate change globally. Recognizing that cities consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy and account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions, our organization’s global field staff works with city governments, supported by our technical experts across a range of program areas to reduce carbon emissions and increase energy efficiency in large cities across the world. The current chair of the C40 is Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes, and 108th Mayor of New York City Michael R. Bloomberg is President of the Board. The Steering Committee includes: Berlin, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Hong Kong, Houston, Jakarta, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Seoul and Tokyo.
  • Elizabeth Woodworth

    I went to COP21 as an NGO observer. I am a writer and a professional librarian When I got back to Canada, I felt people were not very well informed about COP21 so I made an over-arching video that takes people into COP21. Please see description below of this freely available experience:

    Launch of New Video:
    “A Climate Revolution for All – COP21: An Inside View”
    (47min 2016)
    Take a trip into the heart of the momentous December, 2015 Paris climate summit (COP21) via this engaged,
    educational video produced by long time environmental activist Elizabeth Woodworth and professional
    Parisian producer Debora Blake.

    Although 3,700 media people attended the conference, Elizabeth, upon returning to Canada, was amazed at
    how few people seemed to know about the cliff-hanger in Paris.

    In Britain, the deal has been hailed as an “historic milestone,” a “watershed moment,” and a “turning point in human history,” by everyone from David Cameron to Richard Branson. Dr. Jeremy Leggett, founder of Solarcentury, the largest UK solar electric company, and Chairman of CarbonTracker, wrote:

    “I witnessed an event that nothing else in human history comes close to in terms of scale and stakes,”


    “…we can realistically dream of the Paris Agreement as a trigger or rallying point for a renaissance in the
    state of humankind.”

    The documentary begins with tours of the venue and its facilities. It then offers a fascinating look at how the
    draft climate agreement evolved through its precarious two-week course.

    It relates how COP’s innovative president, Lauren Fabius, used the indigenous South African “indaba” to reach last-minute consensus.

    COP21 was the largest meeting of nations in France since the UN Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. It
    was attended by delegates from 195 nations, and by 40,000 state and non-state people from around the
    world. Its venue in Le Bourget, north of Paris, was a full square kilometre in size. This video will help you get
    a grip on its enormity and significance.

    From the outset, delegates understood that COP21 would fail if even one of the 195 nations balked. It took extraordinary skill and patience to guide these delegates to consensus.

    Three days before its end, while the fate of the conference hung in the balance, former Vice President Al Gore delivered a moral appeal of rare stature to the assembly.

    The finale of this cry for future life, nowhere to be found in the archived news reports, is featured in the video.

    Meanwhile, parallel climate activist meetings held in northern Paris were issuing strong challenges to the
    conference. Bill Mckibben of, Naomi Klein, author of “This Changes Everything,” and renowned climatologist Dr. James Hansen, insisted the deal would lead to a catastrophic 3-4°C above pre-industrial

    Elizabeth, a Canadian writer and science librarian, had already spent most of the year voluntarily promoting a
    well-researched climate action book, Unprecedented: Can Civilization Survive the CO2 Crisis? (Clarity Press, 2015) by scholar Dr. David Griffin. Her mission in going to COP21 was to show this book to world leaders, and there she was interviewed.

    Hailed by CleanTechnica as “a great service to humanity,” Unprecedented offers a unique mobilization approach to global warming.

    As a follow-through to COP, Unprecedented is ahead of the curve on what governments and citizens can together do to restrain carbon emissions.

    Although global humanity has stepped up a rung on its evolutionary ladder in uniting to address climate
    change, there is so much more work to be done.

    This film will increase awareness and outreach to maintain the momentum of COP21’s historic achievement.

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