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Global cities unite to showcase impactful climate action at COP26

As the COP 26 conference on climate change finally gets underway, Arup and the C40 network of global cities are presenting inspiring examples of what can be achieved in 11 world cities

The C40 global network of cities committed to addressing climate change have teamed up with engineering consultancy Arup to offer delegates at COP26 some of the world’s best examples of impactful climate action at the urban scale.

Located in COP26’s Green Zone, the Global Cities Climate Action Exhibition will feature projects from 11 global cities – including London, Bogota and Auckland. The showcase aims to highlight the critical roles played by cities in reaching the climate and net-zero targets being discussed by key international bodies and leaders at COP26.

The full exhibition will also be available virtually via an interactive digital platform opening on 1 November 2021. You can access the Global Cities Climate Action Exhibition here.

Greater investment

More than half the global population live in cities, which consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy, and account for more than 70 per cent of global carbon emissions. The exhibition organisers are calling for greater investment in city-led climate action to inspire future initiatives.

The exhibition shows how city-led climate solutions from 11 urban areas, which jointly represent more than 109 million inhabitants, are measuring tangible positive climate impacts through reduced emissions, improved resource efficiency, and strengthened climate adaptation and mitigation, while enhancing citizens’ quality of life and social equity.

Initiatives showcased in the exhibition include Los Angeles’ Green New Deal, led by outgoing C40 Cities chair Mayor Eric Garcetti. On-the-ground initiatives range from low-carbon housing support and sustainable mobility solutions to rainwater harvesting projects and transforming waste into clean, affordable energy.

City action on display

The 11 cities chosen to participate in the exhibition include Auckland, Bogota, Lima, London and Los Angeles, all of which have hosted WORKTECH conferences on new ways of working, as well as Beijing, Istanbul, Jakarta, Mumbai, Nairobi and Washington, DC.

London will present its Retrofit Accelerator programmes aimed at channelling sources of funding and providing expertise for the comprehensive retrofit of homes and workplaces to make them more sustainable, cut carbon emissions, and reduce energy bills. Information will also be provided on London’s Ultra-Low Emissions Zone – a road charging scheme designed to reduce emissions from transport and improve air quality across the city.

Auckland will showcase its Te Auaunga/Oakley Creek project. This involves the replacement of a concrete channel along a 1.3km stretch of stream with a wider, nature-based channel with native greenery planted in close proximity to the stream, enhancing protection from flooding for more than 200 previously vulnerable homes.

Bogota will be represented by the Doña Juana Landfill Gas to Energy project, which captures methane gas emitted by the waste stored in landfill and turns it into electricity delivered to residents via the national grid. Another example of healthy city design in the city includes a green corridor comprising more than 20km of public space that integrates socially and environmentally diverse neighbourhoods, and highlights the history and memory of the city with identity and landscape enhancements.

In addition to its Green New Deal – a climate action plan setting the city on a course to be carbon neutral by 2050 – Los Angeles will showcase the Bradley Plaza Green Alley. This is described as a sustainable transformation of an underutilised alley into a thriving community space, while improving public health and safety and building environmental resilience.

Mumbai will present four ground-breaking rainwater harvesting projects across the city that highlight the potential for rainwater to mitigate climate risks of drought and flooding.

‘Cities can be the engine of swift, tangible climate action, acting as a test bed for innovation…’ 

Richard de Cani, global lead for city planning and design at Arup, explains: ‘City-level action is often overlooked in favour of international targets, but there are huge opportunities for impactful action at city-level to accelerate emissions reductions.

‘This exhibition draws on best practice thinking and successful climate actions from cities across the world, aiming to inspire other city leaders and citizens to accelerate action towards net-zero targets. International agreements and commitments are encouraging but cities can be the engine of swift, tangible climate action, often acting as a test bed for innovation.’

Virtual rooms

The exhibition itself comprises a series of ‘virtual rooms’ for each city in which visitors can discover case studies and initiatives that have demonstrated proven positive climate impacts. The virtual aspect of the exhibition will be hosted using Virtual Engage, a web-based digital platform that allows the public to access the exhibition from any location at any time.

The exhibition will be featured in the COP26 Green Zone from 1-12 November. It will provide a space for mayors and city leaders from the participating cities who are attending COP26 to convene and present their city’s climate action plans to conference attendees.

Andrew Sansom is editorial director of SALUS Global Knowledge Exchange. Salus is a content partner of WORKTECH Academy.
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