Katowice, Poland, 5 December 2018 – UN-Habitat has made an unprecedented offer to support governments to include urban issues in their long term plans for climate action.

The UN-Habitat Executive Director, Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, made the statement on helping governments to address urban dimensions in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in a video statement to the annual Climate Summit (COP-24).

NDCs are at the heart of the 2015 Paris Agreement, the landmark agreement to curb global warming to 2.0 or even 1.5 degrees C. above pre-industrial levels. NDCs represent countries’ long-term plans for climate action. Under the Paris Agreement, countries agree to submit new or revised NDCs every five years, or more frequently, starting in 2020.

In her video-taped message, Ms. Sharif asked the COP-24 delegates and participants: “Has your NDC fully captured major commitments made by city leaders in your country? Commitments by cities, for example, to only allow carbon-neutral new building construction by 2030? Or to only operate zero emission buses by 2025?”

She said such important actions that can help make the difference between 1.5 and a 2 degree (or even a 3.0 degree) world.

Her message was shown during the high-level opening of the “Cities for Climate Urban Summit”, a two-day official side event at COP-24 organized by the Government of Poland which was also addressed by Poland’s Minister of Investment and Economic Development, Mr. Jerzy Kwiecinski, and Acting COP-24 President Mr. Michal Kurtyka.

A review undertaken by UN-Habitat in 2016 of NDCs submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)  https://unhabitat.org/books/sustainable-urbanization-in-the-paris-agreement/  found about two-thirds of reviewed NDCs included “strong” or “moderate” urban content. However, many were rapidly-urbanizing Least Developed Countries and some of the most heavily urbanized countries, including a number of high emitting countries, had few references to cities in their NDCs.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, cities emit between 37 and 49 per cent of global greenhouse gases. Opportunities for cost-effective climate action in cities include bus rapid transit, more compact cities, transit-oriented development and retrofitting buildings to make them more energy efficient. Establishing national-level frameworks to enable local climate action is key to scaling up action in urban areas. A first step is ensuring that NDCs fully support climate action in cities.