Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Spotlight
  2. Energy and Climate Change
29 November 2018updated 08 Sep 2021 6:51am

Climate change is unfair. Our response must not be

The mayors of Barcelona, Milan and Athens say that climate change will deepen the divisions already present in societies around the world.    

By Ada Colau, Giorgos Kaminis and Giuseppe Sala

Climate change affects us all. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C could not have been clearer on the scale of the threat we face. Limiting global warming to 1.5°C, compared to 2°C, could reduce the number of people exposed to climate disasters and at risk of poverty by hundreds of millions. Yet, without profound and urgent change in every part of the economy, society and our daily lives, the world will exceed the 1.5°C target within just 12 years.

We also know that climate change is unfair. A very small percentage of the global population are responsible for the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions, which cause climate change. Yet it is the poorest, most vulnerable members of society and those who have contributed least to emissions who feel the greatest impact of a warming planet.

It is in cities that the impacts of climate change and growing inequality are being felt most severely. Hurricanes, heat waves, flooding and droughts are becoming an annual reality for cities around the world. Too often, it is the old, the young, the disenfranchised and the marginalised citizens who are most at risk of losing their homes, their jobs or even their lives when these disasters strike.

That is why we, as the mayors of Barcelona, Milan and Athens, are so committed to delivering urgent climate action, which also benefits all citizens equitably. As leading members of the C40 Cities network, we are working to rapidly bring down greenhouse gas emissions consistent with limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5°C. We are equally clear that cities cannot live up to the promise of the Paris Agreement unless our actions also reduce inequality and deliver social justice for all citizens.

Here in Barcelona, we have published the Climate Plan 2018 – 2030, which will ensure we deliver on our fair share of the Paris Agreement targets. Our plan recognises that climate mitigation and adaptation are key, but also gives equal weight to climate justice, with a zero-energy poverty target by 2030, and to shared citizen responsibility and co-creation, allocating €1.2m in subsidies for collaborative citizen projects. A network of 1,000+ organisations and signatories of the Barcelona Citizen Commitment to Sustainability 2012 – 2022 is involved in drafting and implementing this city-wide climate plan.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

In Milan, we have introduced policies to tackle food waste, procure electric buses, and improve energy efficiency, whilst also improving the quality of life of our most vulnerable citizens. For example, restaurants and shops which donate their unused food to charities pay 20 per cent less waste tax. Working hand in hand with businesses, civil society and communities is key to delivering bold and equitable climate action in our cities.

Content from our partners
The green transition can unlock 40,000 new businesses and £175bn
Building the business case for growth
“On supporting farmers, McDonald’s sets a high standard”

In Athens, we have pledged to update our Climate Action Plan in order to meet the Paris Agreement goals by 2020, as part of our 2030 resilience strategy, setting actionable goals for both mitigating as well as adapting to the effects of climate change. We have been prioritising the protection of our most vulnerable citizens from extreme weather events as well as the participation of all those affected in all relevant decision making. By enhancing nature-based solutions and blue/green infrastructures in the most disadvantaged areas of the city, our goal is to better prepare everyone for the inevitable impact of climate change.

Our commitment to bold and just climate action is clear. A total of 31 cities globally, representing 100m people, have now committed to increase community-led development and inclusive climate action. This C40 equity pledge will help achieve social and economic benefits for low-income groups in cities worldwide. But we cannot deliver the sustainable, equitable and prosperous cities of the future alone.

We call on the European Union to step up their climate ambition. First, the European Commission must adopt the 1.5°C and net-zero emissions objectives of the Paris Agreement as goals for their long-term European strategy. This vision can only be delivered with consistent social, economic and energy policies, a coherent post-2020 EU budget for climate action – including measures to phase out fossil fuels – and an enhanced 2030 emissions reduction target.

We also call on EU member states to enhance their climate targets and take all the necessary measures to ensure their implementation for a full and rapid achievement of the Paris Agreement.

Finally, we ask every citizen of the European Union to recognise this unique moment in our history. The decisions we take in the coming months and years about the energy we use, the way we travel, the food we eat and the types of cities we create, will determine the world that our children will inherit. Ideas on how to accelerate climate action and keep global warming to below 1.5°C should be central in the forthcoming European elections. Let none of us who aspire to a more sustainable, equitable and healthier future for all miss this opportunity to create the future we want.

Topics in this article :