Changing Planet

Chinese Cities Show Climate Leadership on a Global Stage

By Zachary Tofias, Head of C40’s Sustainable Communities Initiative

By 2030, China is expected to have more than one billion urban dwellers, placing increasing pressures on the country’s cities and leaders to think innovatively in taking action against climate change.

At the U.S.-China Climate Leaders Summit in Los Angeles in September of last year, Chinese officials pledged that their cities would reduce emissions and aim for even greater reduction targets than those set by national governments. China currently has a target to reduce emissions per unit of GDP by 60-65 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, and to ensure that its greenhouse gas emissions peak around the same year. To meet these ambitious goals, significant progress needs to be made.

Fortunately, Chinese cities are already stepping up, with the help of the C40 network. Wuhan – a C40 member and the largest city in central China – recently hosted a Low Carbon Development Forum, which was attended by more than 300 representatives of the Chinese National Government, Chinese cities and a number of international guests. Featuring presentations on the low carbon development plans for the City of Wuhan, the forum also highlighted strategies from other C40 cities Stockholm and London and showcased the importance of transnational cooperation in tackling climate change in cities.

Wan Yong, Mayor of Wuhan, said:

“Wuhan is experiencing extremely rapid growth, and the city is committed to developing in the most environmentally and sustainable way possible. This is a top priority for our city and for our country. We were so pleased to welcome and learn from all of the C40 international experts who joined us in Wuhan, and we are looking forward to working together with our new friends. This workshop and C40’s networks allow us to learn from best practices from around the world.”

Wan Yong, Mayor of Wuhan, opens the international Low Carbon Development Forum

The forum was timed to coincide with C40’s first Network workshop in China. The workshop brought together senior sustainability officials, urban planners and developers active in the field of low-carbon neighbourhood redevelopment, from C40’s Climate Positive and Sustainable Urban Development Networks. The workshop included officials from Chinese cities Guangzhou, Shenzhen Hong Kong and Wuhan, along with nine other international C40 cities, and eight partners from the Climate Positive Development Program.

The participants left both the C40 forum and workshop in Wuhan with long lists of collaborative opportunities and a strong sense of purpose to carry on their important work in making their cities more liveable and sustainable for future generations. This kind of momentum is critical in the coming years, as cities are helping set the scope and pace of progress as shown in the Paris Agreement – the outcome of December’s COP21 negotiations – which comes into force in 2020. As home to many of the world’s future megacities, what happens in China will have a huge impact on whether the world can get on to a low-carbon pathway.

The Wuhan workshop was made possible by the very generous support from the China Development Bank Capital and the City of Wuhan. 

To learn more about the C40 Climate Positive Development Network, click here.

To learn more about the C40 Sustainable Urban Development Network, click 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.

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