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climate action

Toward a “New Urban Agenda”: Join the World Bank at Habitat III in Quito

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
Cities are home to more than half of the world’s population, consume two-thirds of the world’s energy, and produce 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions. And this trend will only continue: by 2050, 66% of the 10 billion people living on earth will be urban dwellers.
As we mark World Habitat Day, these numbers remind us of a serious fact: while rapid urbanization brings tremendous opportunities for growth and prosperity, it has also posed unprecedented challenges to our cities—and the people who live in them.

Chief among these challenges is meeting fast-growing demand for infrastructure and basic services such as affordable housing and well-connected transport systems, as well as jobs—especially for the nearly one billion urban poor who are disproportionately affected by climate change and adverse socioeconomic conditions.

So, what will it take to build inclusive, resilient, productive, and livable cities?


Key climate messages from a day at the UN General Assembly

Max Thabiso Edkins's picture

September 21 was a great day for advancing climate action at the United Nations. The day kicked off with the High-level Event on the Entry into Force of the Paris Agreement, hosted by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the General Assembly. Ban Ki-moon declared that more than 55 countries had formally joined the Paris Agreement on climate change signed by world leaders this past April, thus officially crossing one of the two thresholds required to bring into force the landmark pact that seeks to put the world on a path towards low-carbon growth and a more sustainable future.

“There is no time to waste. Today will take us one step closer to bringing the Paris Agreement into force this year,” the UN chief stressed. With the recent announcement that India is committed to ratifying the Paris Agreement, it looks like it is increasingly a done deal.

What if…we could help cities more effectively plan a lower-carbon future?

Stephen Hammer's picture

If climate change were a jigsaw puzzle, cities would be a key piece right at the center of it. This was reinforced by more than 100 countries worldwide, which highlighted cities as a critical element of their greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction strategies in their national climate plans (aka INDCs) submitted to the UNFCCC in 2015.

Since the ensuing signing of the Paris Agreement, these countries have shifted gear to focus on turning their climate plans into actions. What if, as many of us may wonder, we could find a cost-effective and efficient way to help put cities—in developing and developed countries alike—onto a low-carbon path of growth?

CURB: Climate Action for Urban Sustainability, launched this Climate Week, is an attempt to do just that. A free, data-driven scenario planning tool, CURB can readily help cities identify and prioritize climate actions to reduce carbon emissions, improve overall efficiency, and boost jobs and livelihoods.

A joint vision for effective city planning

What CURB can do for cities owes very much to the inspiration and stories we have taken from them in developing the tool. It was a fortuitous few hours in early 2014 at the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa that really got the ball rolling on the development of CURB.

4 questions, 4 answers. What’s next after the Paris agreement?

John Roome's picture

Today, April 22, 2016, marks a key moment for the world with the signing of the historic Paris climate change agreement. A record number of world leaders are expected in New York at the United Nations Headquarters for the high-level signing ceremony.

It’s a clear sign that people recognize that the changing climate is impacting us now – the recent record-breaking temperature, spread of infectious diseases, and climatic conditions, are increasingly alarming and must be dealt with before it’s too late. Now is the time for action and for countries and governments to deliver on their promises made in Paris.

I’ve answered some questions that will better help explain why the signing of the Paris Agreement is critical and how we in the World Bank Group are stepping up our efforts to help countries deliver on their pledges.

Learning to leverage climate action in cities

Abha Joshi-Ghani's picture
All climate action is ultimately local. At the center of this is city leadership and engaged citizens. It is estimated that cities are responsible for 2/3 of global energy consumption and produce 80 % of the world’s GDP. Density creates the possibility of doing more with less, and with a smaller carbon footprint. While urban areas are responsible for more than 70 % of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, it is cities that can make a difference by effectively tackling climate change. We often find that cities lead the way on climate action against the inertia of national governments.
We already see a large number of cities taking the lead in sustainability through innovative financing mechanisms, technological advances, policy and regulatory reforms, efficient use of land and transport, waste reduction, energy efficiency measures, and reduction of GHG emissions.
What is needed now for scaling this up is systematic knowledge exchange and learning among cities. Peer-to-peer learning is a powerful tool once contextualized and adapted to the particular socio-economic and political context. Iterative learning with feedback loops can help in finding transformative solutions.

Food systems are finally on the climate change map. What’s next?

Marc Sadler's picture
Climate-smart crops can help feed the world. Dasan Bobo / World Bank

So, food systems are finally on the climate change map and embedded in the language of the Paris Climate Agreement.

This is a long way from the previous involvement of agriculture as a contentious area that was subject to fractious debate and fatally entwined with the discussion around climate-change related loss and damage. A vast majority of national plans to address climate change or Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) presented at the COP in Paris contained language and commitments on agriculture – for both adaptation and mitigation measures.

What’s behind this change in sentiment and action?

Morocco raises stakes on combating climate change

Sameh Mobarek's picture
View over Ouarzazate city, Morocco. (Photo via ThinkStock)

While responsible for only a small share of global emissions, the country is taking big steps to curb them.

In the next few weeks, Morocco is preparing to commission the first phase of what will be the largest concentrated solar power plant of its kind in the world. The 510 MW Noor-Ouarzazate Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) complex was first conceived as part of the Moroccan Solar Plan (MSP) adopted in 2009 to significantly shift the country’s energy policy and climate change agenda, which is particularly relevant with the climate conference (COP21) happening in Paris. 

This is no small featcurrently, Morocco depends on fossil fuel imports for over 97 percent of its domestic power needs, making it particularly susceptible to regional conditions and volatility in oil prices.

The country is determined to change that, with plans to boost the amount of electricity it generates from renewable sources to 42 percent of its total capacity by 2020. This entails developing and commissioning at least 2,000 MW of solar and 2,000 MW of wind capacity in a relatively short timeframe. 

The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) was established to implement MSP’s solar targets in conjunction with the Office National de l’Electricité et de l’Eau Potable (ONEE), Morocco’s national electricity and water utility.  Noor-Ouarzazate is the first of a series that MASEN expects to commission by 2020 to achieve its renewable energy target.

Campaign art: Sing a 'Love Song to the Earth' to support climate action

Roxanne Bauer's picture

People, Spaces, Deliberation bloggers present exceptional campaign art from all over the world. These examples are meant to inspire.

With only a few months until world leaders gather to draft and sign a universal climate agreement in Paris at the COP21, an all-star lineup of music legends and celebrities have come together to record a new single to build awareness and support for action on climate change. 

“Love Song to the Earth” was created to stress the importance of taking action to protect the environment but also to uplift listeners regarding environmental protection. The song hopes to empower people to take action rather than feel paralyzed by the enormity of climate change issues.
In addition to the single, executive director Jerry Cope also created a “lyric video” featuring film from around the world as well as scientists, celebrities, and people all around the world holding up signs reading “Keep it Safe,” and "It’s Our World”.
Love Song for the Earth will join The Climate Reality Project and Friends of the Earth as a partner for 24 Hours of Reality and Live Earth: The World is Watching on 13-14 November 2015. Fans are also encouraged to sign a petition to tell world leaders to “keep Earth safe at the global climate change negotiations."

The COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, will, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate.  The goal of the agreement, involving more than 190 nations, is to keep global warming below 2°C.  COP21 will take place from 7-8 December 2015.

Love Song to the Earth

Caring for our common home, Pope Francis and the SDGs

Adam Russell Taylor's picture
Pope Francis became the first Pope to address the UN General Assembly and US Congress

It has been a fascinating time to be in the United States and watch as the media and American public were transfixed by Catholic Pope Francis’ whirlwind three city sojourn to Washington DC, New York City and finally Philadelphia.

It was a trip of firsts. Pope Francis became the first Pope to address a joint session of the US Congress and then a day later marking another first in addressing the UN General Assembly just before member states unanimously adopted Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

It was fitting and profound to have the Pope frame the global goals’ agenda with his remarks, since in many ways his recently released encyclical, Laudato Si, embodies the integrated and indivisible nature of the sustainable development agenda.

It puts both environmental protection and social inclusion as part and parcel to ending poverty and extending dignity instead of being an add-on or at worst an afterthought. 

Climate action does not require economic sacrifice

Rachel Kyte's picture

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Harvesting rice-fields in a White Thai village in Mai Chau, Hoa Binh province, northern Vietnam.
Harvesting rice-fields in a White Thai village in Mai Chau, Hoa Binh province, northern Vietnam.

More than two decades ago, the world agreed on the need to confront climate change.

The U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) emerged in 1992, spawning a variety of negotiating forums with the goal of preventing catastrophic impacts from planetary warming caused mostly by polluting societies.

It's easy to overlook the progress that has occurred since, because we still have so far to go. Droughts, flooding and cyclones that already seem to be the norm are just the latest warnings of what is coming, and preventing much worse requires immediate and aggressive action to drastically reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.