Major cities are playing an ever increasing role in combating climate change

10 september 2018

"Protecting the environment is an important priority for achieving sustainable development both at the global, national and municipal levels. This goal can only be achieved through joint efforts," said Analytical Center expert Irina Pominova at the 2nd City Climate Forum.

According to Ms. Pominova, 2017 ended up being one of the top three hottest years in recorded official history. The average temperature of air and water exceeded the pre-industrial average by 0.9°C, while sustainable development with regards to climate assumes that the growth in global temperatures must not exceed 2°C (however, currently the goal is to limit it to 1.5°C).

According to some estimates in 2017, natural disasters resulted in about 8.5 thousand deaths around the world, the expert said. Financial losses caused by natural disasters reached USD 339 billion (the second largest amount in recorded history), with 96% of financial losses being caused by natural disasters stemming from climate anomalies whose frequency has increased as a result of the rise in global temperatures.

At the global level, combating climate changes has been included in the UN sustainable development goals. This goal is directly linked to the Paris Climate Agreement enter into 2015 as part of the UN framework convention on climate change.

Simultaneously with the development of international agreements new climate change laws are being adopted at the national level, even though since the signature of the Paris Agreement the pace of the adoption of national climate change laws has slowed, Ms. Pominova noted.

According to her, Russia is developing a climate policy despite the geopolitical pressure currently being put on it. In 2009, a Climate Doctrine until 2020 was adopted and in 2013 a national goal was approved to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and finally in 2015 the country adopted a concept for the creation of a system for monitoring, reporting and auditing greenhouse gas emissions. The further steps in the climate policy of the country were laid out in the 2016 Road Map for the Ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement. April 2017 saw the approval of the Environmental Security Strategy for the Russian Federation through 2025.

"About 70% of the current greenhouse gas emissions come from the 6 largest emitters (China, the USA, the EU, India, Russia and Japan). If the current differences in greenhouse gas emissions remain, the achievement of the global climate goal will depend primarily on the efforts of these countries, including Russia", Ms. Pominova said.  

Meanwhile, some 70% of greenhouse gas emissions in the world originate in cities. Major urban centers that are home to huge populations are described as hot spots of the planet. In this context, climate initiatives at the municipal level are just as important as the climate policy of the largest greenhouse gas emitting nations.

It should be noted that we are now seeing a positive trend towards greater climate responsibility with cities joining efforts to combat climate change, Ms. Pominova believes. And even the slowing down in the development of climate policies at the national level over the past several years has at least in part been compensated by the more prominent role being played by cities now. The first such major city is Moscow.

The Analytical Center annually publishes versions of the UN Sustainable Development goals adapted to the Russian conditions. For the latest version of the Human Development Report on the Environmental Priorities for Russia follow this link.

Photo: from open sources