Public wants more power for cities to tackle climate crisis, says Arup

80% of people in six major UK cities believe local leaders should have more powers to cut carbon emissions, says Arup.

Four out of five people surveyed from London, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, Belfast and Glasgow believe mayors and city leaders should have more powers to cut carbon emissions, according to new data revealed by Arup.

The research shows that despite thinking their leaders should have greater influence, fewer than half of those surveyed know what action their city is taking to reach net-zero. A further two-thirds either ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ agree that city leaders need a seat at the table during international climate conferences such as COP26 for meaningful progress to be achieved.

As COP26 gets underway, Arup is calling for greater investment capital and confidence in city-led climate action to inspire future initiatives.

Richard de Cani, global planner leader, Arup, said: “Today cities generate more than 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions and we know by 2050 the world’s urban population will exceed six billion, presenting huge challenges for cities established and new. While we need international and national policies to address this, city leaders need more power to take action now and implement plans that will be effective at reducing carbon emissions in their city. Our research shows people see a vital role for their Mayors and leaders in tackling climate change, which is why they need greater visibility and a seat at the table at events such as COP26.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan, said: “With the UK hosting COP26, we need to take bold action now or face the consequences – with catastrophic impacts on our environment, the air we breathe and the climate. I’ve committed to making London a zero-carbon city by 2030, faster than any other comparable city, and it’s why we are delivering a climate action plan that is compatible with the highest ambitions of the Paris Agreement. I also want London to be a zero-pollution city so that no child has to grow up in our city breathing toxic air. That’s why I have now expanded our Ultra Low Emission Zone to cover all of inner London.

“But I can’t do it all alone. I am delighted to be elected as the next global chair of C40 at this critical time for our planet and look forward to working with the other C40 cities in Glasgow and beyond as we show solidarity in addressing the climate emergency. Government need to work with cities, giving them the powers and funding to deliver a brighter future – one that’s greener, fairer and more prosperous for everyone.”

The UK’s cities are already taking practical action to help reach international climate targets, as follows.

London: Ultra-Low Emissions Zone – the world’s most famous road charging scheme to reduce emissions from transport and improve air quality across the city;

Manchester: Net Zero Carbon New Build Policy – a proposal by the Manchester Climate Change Partnership for all new builds to be net zero from 2023;

Birmingham: Clean Air Zone – introduced this summer to improve Birmingham’s air quality and cut transport emissions;

Cardiff: Coed Caerdydd (Cardiff Forest) – a £1m project to plan thousands of trees to absorb carbon, create a greener city and create new habitats;

Belfast: Net-Zero Caron Roadmap – Belfast City Council’s first climate plan, which includes planting a million trees by 2035;      

Glasgow: Green Deal – Glasgow City Council’s proposal to create sustainable jobs, eliminate poverty and reduce climate risk.

Together with other global city leaders, London mayor Sadiq Khan is set to attend the Global Cities Climate Action Exhibition, at COP 26 in Glasgow. Curated by Arup and C40 Cities, the global network of cities committed to addressing climate change, the Green Zone exhibit will highlight cities’ critical roles in reaching the ambitious targets being discussed by key international bodies and leaders at COP26. The exhibition will showcase some of the most innovative city-led initiatives from 11 urban areas, designed to reduce emissions and will also be available virtually via an interactive digital platform.

Mark Watts, executive director, C40 Cities: “Showcasing what is possible at this year’s COP is vitally important to demonstrate that we can deliver science-based climate action. This inspiring exhibition will feature transformative climate solutions being pioneered in C40 cities, as well as the tangible resulting benefits upon residents' lives and urban environment. Governments worldwide need to come together in Glasgow at COP26 and prioritise the climate crisis with the same sense of urgency as mayors.”

The exhibition will run virtually from 1-12 November 2021. Click here to visit the exhibition.

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