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India’s Megacities Join EU-Led Global Climate And Energy Pact

Mumbai, India. Photo: sajidbullet / YouTube
Mumbai, India. Photo: sajidbullet / YouTube

The largest and first-of-its-kind coalition of cities committed to fighting climate change is expanding to India in 2017.

Mayors in megacities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad as well as smaller cities in the country of more than one billion will be signing up, the European Commission announced this week (7 February).

The EU-supported Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy is the result of the 2016 merger of the European Union’s Covenant of Mayors and the UN Compact of Mayors. The new covenant will now open an official representation in India, the Commission says.

India is witnessing the fastest rates of urbanisation in the world, with fast-growing suburbs and high population density. Mayors and local authorities are seen as are crucial to turning national climate commitments into action.

With more than 7000 cities around the world participating already, the network could provide a major opportunity for Indian cities to leapfrog key climate change challenges.

Climate Innovation

One of the initiatives to help cities in Europe confront climate change, the EU’s Climate-KIC innovation partnership, already works with cities in India.

In October 2016, the city of Chennai – a megacity of more than seven million – took part in Climate-KIC’s global Climathon which saw cities around the world organise hackathons to fast-track local solutions to climate change.

A team from Thiagarajar College of Engineering (TCE) came up with the winning idea in Chennai: use microalgae to capture exhaust fumes produced by electricity generation.

The “Carbon to Cash” solution would limit greenhouse gas emissions and help cut back on air pollution while the microalgae could be sold to the cosmetic, agricultural and wastewater industries. The winners say they have already attracted investors.

Policy Support

Aside from technology, the right policies are also key finding solutions to climate change.

The EU’s new International Urban Cooperation Programme hopes to encourage this by bringing European and Indian cities together to find out how their policies can support sustainable urban development, the European Commission says.

The programme will support the creation and implementation of climate action plans to help cities contribute to India’s climate change commitments. The EU also hopes to accelerate the exchange and transfer of know-how and capacities between cities in areas such as urban sustainable development, energy efficiency and climate action.

Access to the EU’s market of sustainable innovations and best practices by the research and business sectors is seen as critical as well.

Global Expansion

The Global Covenant of Mayors already includes cities from some 120 countries across six continents. The cities represent more than 600 million people, over 8 per cent of the world’s population.

Run by a board of city mayors from around the world, the pact is chaired by EU Commission vice-president Maroš Šefčovič, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres.

The Covenant of Mayors representation in India will add to already existing regional covenant offices in Europe, the Mediterranean region and Sub-Saharan Africa.

During the COP22 climate summit in Marrakesh last month, the European Commission already announced it is also setting up a separate North American chapter of the covenant, the announcement gained an extra dimension because of the surprise election of climate sceptic Donald Trump a week earlier.

Further regional representations are also planned for Latin America and the Caribbean, East and South-East Asia and Japan.

Find out more about 30 Climathon-winning solutions that could change the world.

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