The first week of negotiations was marked with national leaders and actors cheering, a draft text,  the launch of a Solar Alliance and a $500million fund for developing countries.


Modi Announces Solar Alliance (Bijli= Electricity) Credits- www.thelotpot.com 

Amidst all the negotiations onsite, cities,  local governments and famous actors met at Paris’ City Hall to discuss climate initiatives during the Climate Summit for Local Leaders on 4-6 December.


Celebrity, meet Mayor-  Celebrities endorse city-based climate action (credits- Getty Images)

Mayors discussed heating cooling, reliance on fossil fuels and released a report on finance at the meeting.

This report on the State of the City Climate Finance, which urges cities to invest in resilient and low-emission infrastructure, put a price on carbon, leverage existing financial institutions and innovate new funding models.

If cities outsource climate action to private actors, they reduce their financial and administrative burdens, but action is often mismatched.

One of the main problems with local action so far was the disconnect between local governments and funding for implementation (largely from non-state actors, particularly businesses). Now that Michael Bloomberg is envoy for cities, and also in the head of the Global Climate Taskforce, which will show companies what they risk to lose with climate change, it will become seemingly easier to match proposed action with funding.



Bloomberg doubles up as special envoy for cities and head of Global Climate Taskforce (Credits- Forbes.com)


The Text

Mentions of subnational action in the text is still in the same context- in the preamble, in recognition of capacity building, adaptation and mitigation, and to promote cooperation. The text uses “local” and “subnational” synonymously and each word appears 11 times in the 5 December text, in the same context. The word “cities” appears only twice, in the section on non-party actors and cooperation; local and subnational governments are also referred to in these clauses. Though the word cities appears only twice in the text, subnational actions in cities are more prominently publicized, and may be the focus of subnational action in collaboration with the UNFCCC.

What remains

The three main challenges to climate action are institutional, financial and capacity building. By piggybacking on local financial institutions as recommended by the State of the City Climate Finance, institutional and financial problems will be greatly reduced. Capacity building is recognized and called for in the Paris text, and cooperation amongst cities laterally, and vertically with nations, regions and international organization will increase capacity building. Now what remains is ironing out how to execute this, and then executing it.

And finally…

It seems that the UN and national governments are becoming more and more receptive to the stance  that…


and finally...
“To change everything, you need everyone.”

(Credits- WWF)

On 8 December, cities and regions will discuss the role of  cities and subnationals at a side event. For a schedule of events on local/ city/ subnational action, follow this link


Local governments continue to be on the sidelines of the UNFCCC process, but are gaining visibility for their action to adapt to and mitigate climate change.

More and more sub-national governments are joining the Covenant of Mayors and the C40 to combat climate change through local action. Local and Municipal Government Authorities (LGMAs) have participated in climate action even before the first Conference of Parties (CoP) under the UNFCCC process.

Cities and local governments- leaders of climate action?

70% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2030 and up to 80% of adaptation and mitigation action will occur at the subnational level, per a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) report. Any action taken by a local government can be evaluated and easily scaled up if successful. Thus, LGMAs have been arguing for active engagement, and have urged fellow sub-national governments to take the lead in climate action during the World Mayors Summit, 2013.

LEAD THE WAY! World Mayors Summit Calls on LGMAs to be climate leaders.

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INDIA’s INDC- “Working towards Climate Justice”

India’s INDC (Intended Nationally-Determined Contribution) was released just before the 1 October deadline for COP21. This article voices some preliminary observations.

India’s INDC[1] is ambitious and relies largely on external funding. While targeting an increase of 3.5-5 billion tons of tree-based carbon sequestration by 2030, the INDC supports “Make in India” and invites investments for low carbon growth– as the per dollar emissions reduction is greater in India than in developed countries.

With current emissions less GDP-intensive than developed countries historical emissions, India believes in the common but differentiated responsibility but agrees to reduce its emissions sharply, subject to funding. India also speaks of increased vulnerability, loss and damage due to extreme and creeping weather events to livestock, coasts, crops and health- particularly increased malaria and dengue; leaving the door open to negotiate funding at Paris.

India aspires to increase its Human Development Index (HDI) and access to infrastructure while preserving and improving the environment. As “a large forest cover provides huge ecological benefits, but there is also an opportunity cost in terms of area not available for other economic activities and this also serves as an important indicator of fiscal disability”[2], 7.5% of the state’s grant (approx. 7 Billion USD) from the federal tax pool will be based on the forest cover. This incentive to preserve and increase forest cover does not seem to prevent old growth forests from being replaced with younger trees. In fact, the current government is a strong advocate of a compensatory afforestation scheme that does not prohibit this.

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