On July 17, 2020, C40 Cities released the C40 Mayors’ Agenda for a Green and Just Recovery outlining bold steps to deliver an equitable and sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jenny A Durkan, Mayor of Seattle, Washington said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the same inequities that are exacerbated by climate change, which disproportionately impacts communities of color. To truly combat the lasting effects of these dual crises, we must pursue solutions that not only address the short-term impacts, but contribute to long-term wealth creation that advance the health and wellbeing of Black and Indigenous communities.”
“In Seattle, we’re committed to centering the principles outlined in the C40 Mayors Agenda for a Green and Just Recovery as we reopen and recover from COVID-19, and I hope to see these principles integrated at a national and international scale,” she added.
The agenda includes specific measures, already being delivered in many cities around the world, which must become the “new normal” to contain and better prepare for future pandemics, address systemic injustices and keep global heating below the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement.
Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles, California & C40 Chair, said: “Mayors see the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis as they are: global challenges that pose massive threats to our lives and livelihoods –– and demand urgent action to correct structural inequities, improve public health, and create more inclusive economies.”
“The way we shape our recovery will define our cities for generations to come, and this C40 agenda will leverage the collective power that mayors wield to help protect our planet and lay the foundation for a more just and resilient future,” he continued.
Here is the Agenda in full:
Among the measures championed by mayors today include green job creation programs; increased rights and support for all workers whose efforts have proved essential during the COVID-19 crisis; investments in green industries such as guaranteed access to resilient public services, particularly for the most vulnerable; building retrofit programs; investing in safe and reliable mass transit; and new protected spaces for pedestrians and cyclists.
Recognizing that delivering an equitable, low carbon recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will require a global effort, C40 Cities and their allies have also called on national governments to support their efforts. C40 mayors call for commitments to “ensure that all economic recovery funds and stimulus packages support a fair and sustainable transition.” Calling for an end to all public investments in fossil fuels, C40 mayors are clear: “Nations must seize this moment to decisively move away from investments in high carbon and fossil fuel intensive industries and increase investments in a low carbon future.”
The mayors’ agenda makes clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has starkly exposed deep inequalities in cities and across cities in different regions of the world, including by disproportionately impacting Black people, Indigenous communities and people of color, low-income communities, isolated elderly, and those living in informal settlements. Mayors commit to addressing these injustices, and call on national governments to ensure stimulus investment and recovery funds create more just and inclusive societies and communities, and directly address long-standing inequalities and ongoing discrimination based on race, gender and income.
This vision of a green and equitable recovery from the COVID-19 crisis was immediately welcomed by leaders and activists around the world, including the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, representatives of business, trade unions, youth climate activists, economists, citizen groups, and many more. It is based on the principles of the Global Green New Deal announced by C40 Chair and Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, at the C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen.
The mayors’ agenda was released by the C40 Global Mayors COVID-19 Recovery Task Force, established at the direction of C40 Chair and Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, and chaired by Mayor of Milan Giuseppe Sala. The Task Force was guided by a Statement of Principles, already endorsed by more than 40 city leaders from around the world.
In contrast to national governments and multilateral organisations, mayors have been collaborating throughout their response to the COVID-19 crisis. This unparalleled co-operation will form the basis of the just and green recovery in the world’s leading cities.
C40 mayors call on national and regional governments, central banks and international financial institutions to join them in delivering a green and just recovery from COVID-19.
Our calls to action are:
1. The only stimulus should be a green stimulus
Governments and multilateral agencies should invest in a green and just recovery by conditioning all stimulus packages, corporate aid and recovery funds to support the low-carbon transition we need and to prioritize investment in sustainable, climate-resilient industries and infrastructure.
2. Commit to an equitable and inclusive recovery
Plans and investments for the recovery need to address the root causes of economic inequalities by: providing direct and equitable access to green jobs and equal employment opportunities in the low-carbon transition; increasing equitable participation in the labor force through training and upskilling, especially for currently marginalized groups; and developing and applying appropriate regularization mechanisms (ie. formal recognition, documentation, etc.) to provide better employment conditions and social protections for essential informal workers.
3. Protect and champion mass transit
Invest, subsidize and support affordable zero-emission mass transit. To keep our air clean and prioritize the health of our residents, governments must use stimulus funds to make public transportation more accessible, reliable, frequent, affordable, well-integrated, safe, and more resilient in the face of future potential crises. Governments must also make it easier for cities to procure electric buses whilst reallocating road space to public transit, cycling, and pedestrian infrastructure, and help cities maintain and enhance some of the successful air quality, climate and road safety improvements introduced during lockdowns.
4. Prioritize and invest in clean energy
Invest in renewable energy and building retrofit city programs to create thousands of jobs, help residents save on energy bills and protect people’s health and safety with better and more energy efficient, healthier homes and offices.
5. Invest in resilient cities as the engines of the recovery
Cities have been on the front-line of the pandemic and national governments, international financial institutions, multilateral development banks and other relevant financial entities must channel financial support directly to cities and ensure that cities can easily access this finance, recognizing the need to combat the existing barriers they encounter.
6. End all public fossil fuel investments and subsidies
Accelerate the global and urban energy transition as a cornerstone of the COVID-19 green and just recovery by ending all public fossil fuel investments and subsidies. It has been 11 years since G20 governments pledged in Pittsburgh to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, yet no action has been taken. With a clear need to invest in clean power, public transport, and cities, and fossil fuel prices at historic lows, all national governments must decisively move away from investments in high carbon and fossil fuel intensive industries and increase investments in a low carbon future.
Photo of Seattle via Adobe Stock.