World’s major cities pledge to set ambitious pollution reduction targets
World mayors pledge to set pollution reduction targets within two years that meet or exceed national commitments.
Thirty-five mayors from some of the world’s largest cities have pledged to deliver reduced pollution and clean air for the more than 140 million people that live in their cities.
The mayors came together at the C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen to sign the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration. In doing so, they recognise that breathing clean air is a human right and have committed to working together to form an unparalleled global coalition for clean air.
The pledge commits cities to set ambitious pollution reduction targets and implement substantive clean air policies by 2025. By publicly reporting on their progress, the cities plan to generate a ‘race to the top’ in cleaning the air in the world’s big cities. The cities signing the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration are:
Amman, Austin, Bengaluru, Barcelona, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Delhi, Dubai, Durban (eThekwini), Guadalajara, Heidelberg, Houston, Jakarta, Los Angeles, Lima, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Medellin, Mexico City, Milan, Oslo, Paris, Portland, Quezon City, Quito, Rotterdam, Seoul, Stockholm, Sydney, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Tokyo, Warsaw, Washington D.C.
Mayors, speaking at a press conference in Copenhagen had a clear message: “We know we need to tackle the twin dangers of air pollution and the climate emergency. Both need swift, unprecedented and collective action to remove the pollution that is harming our health and warming our planet.”
“Our residents deserve to know that future generations will inherit a liveable planet – and that our air, water, and natural resources will be protected and preserved,” said Los Angeles Mayor and Chair Elect, Eric Garcetti. “C40 Cities are leading the global work to reduce emissions with bold, concrete actions to ensure our children and grandchildren can breathe clean, healthy air.”
According to the World Health Organization, nine in 10 citizens around the world breathe dirty air, and 7 million people die prematurely each year due to air pollution.
Through the new declaration, mayors commit to using their power and influence to reduce air pollution and work towards meeting the World Health Organization’s Air Quality Guidelines. This means cities will continually reduce their local emissions, and advocate for reductions in regional emissions, resulting in continuous declines in air pollution levels that move towards the WHO guidelines.
Signatories of the declaration have pledged to:
- Set ambitious pollution reduction targets within two years that meet or exceed national commitments, putting them on a path towards meeting World Health Organization guidelines
- Implement substantive clean air policies by 2025 that address the unique causes of pollution in their cities
- Publicly report progress on achieving these goals.
If the 35 signatories reduce annual average PM2.5 levels to WHO guidelines (10 ug/m3) it could avoid 40,000 deaths each year.
Mayor of Paris and Chair of C40 Anne Hidalgo, said: “Breathing clean air is a fundamental human right. The fossil fuel and combustion car industry are responsible for a global public health crisis. The commitments announced today by 35 pioneering mayors, clearly demonstrates that the era of toxic emissions that poison the air we all breathe is coming to an end. I won’t rest until all Parisians breathe clean air.”
Among the array of tools that mayors have available to them for improving air quality are low- or zero-carbon public transport and the creation of zero-emissions zone, alongside incentives and infrastructure to support walking and cycling, and establishing city-wide air quality monitoring.
However, cities often do not have the ability to address all causes of pollution, and are calling upon nation states, businesses and all those who care about climate change and public health to match this commitment. The declaration includes a message for all responsible actors: “We will use all the powers at our disposal as mayors to tackle air pollution, and call on others responsible for the sources of air pollution that poison the air in our cities to match this commitment.”
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London said: “Toxic air pollution is a global crisis, and as mayors, it is our fundamental responsibility to protect the public from this invisible killer. That’s why, in London, we have launched the world’s first ultra-low emission zone, expanded our air quality monitoring network and taken ambitious steps to electrify and expand public transport. After the first four months of ULEZ more than 75 per cent of vehicles in central London now meet these tough standards. Cities are leading the efforts to tackle pollution with innovative solutions, and I’m pleased to join Mayors around the world in signing this declaration to help deliver clean air for all.”