By 2030, two thirds of humanity will live in urban centres, where more than 75% of all energy is already consumed today. In addition, all cities, especially those fast-growing in developing countries are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Thus, local and subnational governments play a critical role in global efforts related to the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adaptation to adverse effects of climate change.
As neither the UNFCCC nor the Kyoto Protocol includes any reference to the role of cities and local governments, the Local Government Climate Roadmap was launched in 2007 in Bali as a response to the Bali Action Plan, with a view to ensure recognition, engagement and empowerment of local and subnational governments in the new global climate regime.
The Local Government Climate Roadmap reached a milestone achievement in 2010 with the adoption of the Cancun Agreements (Dec.1/CP16) in which para.7 recognizes local and subnational governments as governmental stakeholders. Between 2009 and 2012, local government networks further developed innovative global mechanisms to enhance measureable, reportable, verifiable (MRV) local climate action, such as the Global Cities Covenant on Climate Change – the Mexico City Pact, Durban Adaptation Charter, carbonn Climate Registry (cCCR) and Global Protocol for Community Scale GHG Emissions (GPC).
The role of local and subnational governments are further recognized and strengthened in a number of global processes outside the UNFCCC, including; biodiversity (e.g. COP decisions in 2008, 2010 and 2012, as well as the Nagoya Plan of Action), sustainable development (e.g. para.42 and numerous references in Rio+20 Outcome document ”The Future We Want”, Goal.11 – Making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable within universal set of sustainable development goals), disaster risk reduction (e.g. Hyogo Framework for Action, and UN-ISDR “Making My Cities Resilient Campaign”).
The launch of Covenant of Mayors in Europe in 2007, urban carbon neutrality goals like Copenhagen, low carbon city pilot programmes in China or Mexico, city or state level emissions trading schemes, like in Tokyo, California, Quebec, multilateral partnerships, including Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) and Low Emission Development Strategies Global Partnership (LEDS GP) can be considered as leading examples of innovative partnerships and initiatives that enhances local action with subnational, national, regional and global partners.
In 2011, the UN Durban Climate Conference kicked off a new round of negotiations (ADP) to agree on a new global climate regime that is aimed to be adopted by 2015 and enter into force in 2020. Workstream-2 of ADP process focuses on raising the level of ambition in the pre-2020 period, giving an opportunity for stronger engagement of local and subnational governments.
In order to ensure tangible results in the ADP process, second phase of Local Government Climate Roadmap was launched through the Nantes Declaration of Mayors and Subnational Leaders on Climate Change adopted in September 2013. Active participation at ADP workshops in 2012 and 2013 enabled an enhanced dialogue with national governments, which further led to the establishment of a “Friends of Cities” Group as well.
In 2013, through the ADP Workshop on urbanization and historic “Cities Day” including COP Presidency Cities and Subnational Dialogue, UN Warsaw Climate Conference resulted with para.5b of Dec1/CP19 as the second COP Decision, which this time engages cities and subnational authorities in raising global level of ambition.
In 2014, the ADP Cities and Subnational Forum and Technical Expert Meeting on Urban Environment created a new opportunity to contribute in the Paris2015 Outcome. At the Climate Summit 2014, the Compact of Mayors was launched as an unprecedented initiative which designated the carbonn Climate Registry as its central repository, which as of October 2014, captures climate information of local and subnational governments that serve more than 12% of world´s urban population.