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How Will COP26 Decisions Affect Urban Citizens and Professionals

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By Vedant Kulkarni

· 3 min read

1. C40 has developed a Clean Construction Declaration signed by five visionary members of the C40 network: Budapest, Los Angeles, Oslo, Mexico City, and now San Francisco. They are showing strong leadership and policy demand through city action, including setting targets for reduced embodied emissions in new developments, using incentives to maximize the use of existing buildings and materials, and mobilizing the use of low emission materials and machinery through city procurement. They have pledged to bring together and inspire stakeholders to take action and enact policies and regulations where they have the powers to Reduce embodied emissions by at least 50% for all new buildings and significant retrofits by 2030, striving for at least 30% by 2025—reducing embodied emissions by at least 50% of all infrastructure projects by 2030, aiming for at least 30% by 2025. Require zero-emission construction machinery in municipal projects from 2025 and zero-emission construction sites city-wide by 2030, where available. City dwellers can hope to start seeing these changes around soon.

2. One thousand forty-nine cities and local governments are now participating in the Race to Zero. These collectively represent more than 722 million people. Additionally, 109 regions, cities, and states have signed up to Race to Resilience. One of the newest members is India's largest state by GDP, Maharashtra, where more than 124 million people live. Sixty-eight cities, states, and regions had signed up to a range of new cross-sector actions – to be taken this decade – to decrease emissions, increase climate resilience and protect biodiversity. The Coalition covers 260 governments representing 50% of the economy. Shortly before COP26, it updated its membership criteria in line with a 1.5C temperature pathway.

3. The Race to Zero Campaign underpins the UN High-Level Climate Champions 2030 Breakthroughs Campaign. These breakthroughs are derived from the Climate Action Pathways, a set of comprehensive roadmaps to achieve the Paris Climate Agreement in line with 1.5°C across all sectors. They center around breakthrough targets, the proportion of industry signed up to the Race to Zero by COP26. This target is 20%. Several built environment sub-sectors hit this breakthrough. Notably, in the month leading up to COP26, the 20% breakthrough target for global architects and engineers to join the Race to Zero was reached.

4. The UK Government launched an Urban Climate Action Programme (UCAP), which will provide £27.5m to at least 15 cities in developing countries across three years. Germany signaled its support for the initiative post-launch, so there may well be more funding added. Cities including Lagos, Johannesburg, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Lima, Bogota, and Mexico City will be among those set to benefit from the initial funding, which will be used to decarbonize public transport systems and energy systems, improve climate risk assessments and make waste management more sustainable. Separately, an $8.5bn "partnership" was launched for the US, UK, France, Germany, and EU to help fund South Africa's transition from coal to a "clean energy economy" over the next five years.

5. COP26 DECLARATION ON ACCELERATING THE TRANSITION TO 100% ZERO EMISSION CARS AND VANS committed: "As governments, we will work towards all sales of new cars and vans being zero-emission by 2040 or earlier, or by no later than 2035 in leading markets." This was an ambitious step, although it lacked many signatories. C40's Mayors Migration Council Task Force will champion investments to boost Adaptation and reduce displacement in migrant communities, facilitate dignified movement and other efforts as part of their new agenda.

Future Thought Leaders is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of rising Energy & Sustainability writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of Illuminem.

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About the author

Vedant Kulkarni is the UNFCCC representative for India at COP26 and has a passion for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

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