G-20 News

Why G20 leaders must put cities at the heart of stimulus packages


* All opinions expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Urban areas are on the front lines of COVID-19 and climate crises. Now G20 leaders must listen and learn from them

Giuseppe Salais is mayor of Milan, Virginia Raggi is mayor of Rome and Anies Baswedanis is governor of Jakarta. They co-chair the Urban20, a platform for large cities to collectively inform the G20 negotiations.

More than a year after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is grappling with a monumental task: How can we ensure a recovery that is both green and just, in dealing with health and climate crises, everything ensuring that no one is left behind? As leaders of the Urban20, a group of mayors created to bring the voice of cities to the G20, we believe the answer lies in empowering cities.

A green and fair recovery from COVID-19 is needed to halve global GHG emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 – the only way to keep global warming at 1.5 degrees, like us science says. In November, national leaders from around the world will meet in Glasgow for the COP26 climate negotiations to deliver on promises made in Paris six years ago.

There is no hope of success in Glasgow if the twenty largest economies, which are also the twenty largest emitters of carbon, do not increase their emission reduction targets, phase out coal, do not accelerate the decarbonization of key sectors and do not redirect investments towards clean energies.

G20 leadership is all the more important as we saw how last month the G7 failed to achieve the necessary solid results on vaccine equity and climate finance, leaving the G20 with the challenge of leading a green, healthy and fair recovery. . Our countries, Italy and Indonesia, who are leading the G20 this year and next, must shoulder this historic responsibility and ensure that global recovery efforts are green, fair and work for both countries. developed and developing.

A green and immediately post-COVID-19 recovery is essential to implement the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a set of development priorities focused on eradicating poverty, protecting the planet, promoting equity and improving the lives of people around the world.

Cities are there to support and deliver. From Milan to Sao Paulo, Rome to Jakarta, cities around the world have been on the front lines of COVID-19 and the climate crisis. While dealing with the impact of a global pandemic, mayors and governors continued to manage local responses to unprecedented heat waves, forest fires, storms and the worsening consequences of a rapidly warming world, while progressing in transformative actions to meet their emission reduction commitments.

Mayors understand that the challenges of COVID-19 and the climate emergency cannot be solved with rambling political solutions. These are interconnected global crises that require coordinated and coherent efforts at all levels of government and civil society to build resilience and accelerate the transition to clean and renewable energy.

Our leadership is starting to be celebrated globally. For the first time this year, under the Italian presidency, cities are a central pillar of the G20 agenda. This recognition of the role of mayors in the face of global challenges should not stop there. To harness our transformative power, it is essential that cities continue to be high on the future priorities of the G20, starting with the Indonesian Presidency of the G20 in 2022.

However, national governments can do more to strengthen city leadership. Nationally, they hold the keys to financing, supplies, policies and regulations that allow us to maintain essential public services and pursue ambitious and essential actions to tackle COVID-19 and the climate crisis.

For example, stimulus funds should be directed to cities to finance ambitious and equitable urban climate actions, such as programs to improve the energy efficiency of buildings; expand and decarbonize public transport systems; and distribute vaccines to everyone. When, on the contrary, national recovery plans support or subsidize the fossil fuel industry, this prevents mayors from going faster and going further in their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It’s the a message We delivered to the G20 governments in June: Instead of funding polluting, high carbon industries, work with us for equitable access to vaccines, accelerated climate action and to ensure that the transition to a clean economy carbon footprint benefits the most vulnerable of our residents and communities. In this landmark year for the climate, it is time to listen and invest in cities as engines of local, green and fair recovery.