Cities act on climate while nations delay, Sadiq Khan tells Cop26

The London mayor and chair of a global alliance of cities announces $1bn for electric buses

Global cities are acting now to fight the climate crisis, while many governments are delaying, the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, has told the Cop26 summit.

Cities are growing fast and cause an estimated 75% of carbon emissions, making urban action critical to halting global heating. Khan is chair of the C40 group of 97 major cities, representing more than 700 million people and a quarter of the global economy.

Cop26 focused on cities on Thursday and Khan told the UN secretary-general António Guterres and other delegates that C40 had mobilised an international alliance of investors to deliver $1bn (£750m) for zero-emission buses in Latin America.

“In cities, we are the doers, in contrast to national governments who are the delayers, kicking the can down the road to 2040 or 2050,” he said. “National governments can talk a good game, but then refuse to put in place the plans, action or funding we desperately need. Unfortunately, we have seen more examples of this at Cop26.

“More than two-thirds of C40 cities are already taking action exceeding the Paris Agreement targets. There’s only one country that is making similar progress – the Gambia. But by working with cities, we can still make sure that the 1.5C target stays alive.”

The $1bn electric bus initiative aims to drive down the cost of buses through bulk purchasing.

Khan, who became C40 chair last week, said at least two-thirds of the C40 budget would be spent in the global south: “We as the global north have the broadest shoulders, we’ve got to carry the greatest burden.”

Analysis indicates that public transport use needs to double in cities worldwide to keep to the 1.5C warming limit. London has 500 zero-emission buses, the most in western Europe, but Khan said all 9,000 buses will be zero-emissions by 2034. That could be brought forward to 2030 with government investment, he said: “It also creates jobs around the country, from Ballymena to Falkirk to Scarborough to Guildford.”

The UK government announced £27.5m of funding to support cities across Africa, Asia and Latin America to take climate action. By 2050, 1.6 billion people living in cities will be regularly exposed to extremely high temperatures and more than 800 million city dwellers across the world will be exposed to flooding, the UK government said.

Greg Hands, energy and climate change minister, said: “By 2050 urban areas will be home to two-thirds of the world population, with the speed and scale of urbanisation set to lock in high-carbon infrastructure and inequality if we do not act now.”

Contributor

Damian Carrington in Glasgow

The GuardianTramp

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