Climate scientists and city planners are to start charting a global roadmap on how cities can best battle climate change, when they gather at a U.N.-backed summit in Canada’s Edmonton on Monday. The three day gathering marks the first time cities rather than nations are offered a seat at the table of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the U.N.’s top scientific authority on global warming, organizers say. “What this will do ... is significantly advance the science that mayors and city governments need on which to base their actions,” said David Miller, North America’s director for the C40 Cities network, one of the organizers of the summit. The panel of scientists’ growing interest in cities mirrors fledgling recognition among global leaders that breakneck urbanization must be steered on a path toward reducing planet-warming greenhouse gases, said Miller.
The stakes are high: cities account for an estimated 75 percent of carbon emissions, according to U.N. figures. Under the Paris climate agreement, nearly 200 countries agreed to curb planet-warming emissions enough to keep the rise in global temperatures to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, ideally to 1.5 degrees. But without unprecedented action temperatures could rise above 1.5 degrees, according to a draft report by the IPCC seen by Reuters earlier this year. About 50 percent of the world’s population live in urban areas, a figure expected to grow to 66 percent by 2050, according to the U.N.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s opposition to the Paris accord has lent momentum to initiatives by local authorities waging their own war against climate change, said Aseem Prakash, Professor in the Department of Political Science and founding director of the University of Washington’s Center for Environmental Politics.
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