One way to distinguish among the proliferation of pacts and pledges for city-level climate action is to look at the extent to which each one prepares cities to capture and communicate about the co-benefits of their climate action. The Under 2 MOU, C40 Cities, and Path to Positive stand out as the programs that provide the most guidance and incentive for capturing multiple benefits.
Countries aren’t the only entities that are pledging to decrease their carbon emissions. Cities, counties, and states around the world are also working to mitigate climate change, and many have joined groups and signed onto pledges that commit them to striving for a 2°C planet. These subnational organizations are a great opportunity not only to keep our planet cool, but also to address some of the other challenges that humanity is facing. We call this opportunity multisolving – climate-smart policies and ideas that can both combat climate change and make our communities better off in terms of health, adaptation, and economic development.
So who’s multisolving? After the Paris climate talks, we found that over 60% of national climate pledges were inspired by multisolving. Now, we’re taking a look at cities and other subnational entities. We investigated five different subnational climate pacts, and found that most of them used multisolving in their websites, brochures, or in the commitments signatories make.
If your city is seeking to make a difference on climate change while also making life better for residents, it should consider one of the many multisolving organizations for the support and guidance they provide.
How does multisolving show up in city-level climate pacts?
Under 2 MOU is a memorandum of understanding between 127 jurisdictions on six continents to “reduce their greenhouse gas emissions 80 to 95%, or limit to 2 metric tons CO2-equivalent per capita, by 2050.” Parties to the MOU also agree to promote multisolving solutions such as walking, biking, public transit, waste reduction, waste-to-energy plans, green infrastructure, and reduction of air pollutants, while maximizing adaptation and resilience benefits.
C40 Cities is a group of 83 megacities around the world “committed to addressing climate change.” While C40 does not have its own climate pledge, it has created a series of networks for cities to collaborate on topics of interest. These multisolving networks include energy efficiency, adaptation and water, economic development, solid waste management, sustainable communities, and transportation.
Path to Positive is a US association of community leaders and elected officials at the city, county and regional levels. Not only does Path to Positive provide resources on multisolving topics such as sustainable transit and stormwater management, but the pledge itself commits leaders to promoting clean and affordable energy, saving money with energy efficiency, improving health via air and water quality, preparing for the effects of climate change, and including vulnerable groups in policy decisions.
The Covenant of Mayors boasts over 6,700 signatories to reducing carbon emissions in Europe, North Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East. New signatories to the pledge must “adopt an integrated approach to tackling mitigation and adaptation to climate change,” and share a common vision toward sustainable and affordable energy for all.
The Compact of Mayors is a coalition of 452 cities worldwide who have pledged to both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to create an adaptation plan for their city. However, the mitigation and adaptation targets in the Compact are kept separate, whereas a multisolving framework would encourage synergies between the two, among other co-benefits.
Cities are a huge part of the solution to climate change, and their residents and future generations have a large stake in the success of the city carbon reduction effort. Given recent research that shows that embracing the co-benefits of climate action widens the appeal of climate friendly policy, we think that all of the climate pledges and compacts would do well to incorporate a multiple benefits framing in their work. And given the potential of multisolving to solve more than one problem for the same dollar, we think cities will be able to go further faster if their climate mandate connects to health, economic development, resilience and well-being.
This post is part of a series on multisolving, or climate-smart policies that simultaneously work to mitigate climate change while providing co-benefits such as the ones described above.