The Paris agreement explicitly recognizes the role of cities in helping parties to the agreement—that is, nation-states—implement their commitments. I see three areas where cities are going to play a role. First they will take actions that will count towards each country’s nationally determined commitments, which are the promises they’ve made to cut carbon. Most countries, including Canada, have not yet figured out how to factor in municipal actions into their national targets. But they have every incentive to begin working with cities and provinces to do so, since cities are the level where much of the heavy lifting will happen, especially when it comes to reducing energy demand. Second, some cities will continue to do what Vancouver and its peers have done—which is to act as international trend-setters for climate action, especially those cities which set targets for making the transition away from fossil fuels and toward 100% percent renewable energy. Third, I would expect cities, both in the developed and developing world will be the principal beneficiaries of the new pools of private capital now being set up by major banks and private firms to bank-roll long term energy savings measures and shifts towards renewables. Cities that find a way to deal effectively and directly with these leaders in the financial markets will be among the first movers in the new climate economy. The goal of Renewable Cities is to triple, across five years, the number of cities that have 100 percent renewable energy targets. We’re doing this via two strategies. First, we’re active contributors to the Global 100%RE campaign coordinated by the World Future Council. We heard a lot in Paris about this concept of going big with 100 percent renewables—especially at the Climate Summit for Local Leaders organized by Bloomberg Philanthropies. So we work through, and with, that campaign, and in the coming year we’ll contribute to it with measurements and metrics. And second, because we’re a program of Simon Fraser University’s Center for Dialogue, we’re very focused on convening diverse international players around the table for rich policy conversations. It’s a challenging approach, but we think it’s the best way to go.
Globe 2016 6th Jan 2016 read more »