I am so excited to be in New York celebrating the anniversary of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. It is ten years ago that Ken Livingstone and I invited cities from across the globe to London to launch what was then the C20.
In 2005 the UK hosted the G8 and G20. Then Prime Minister Tony Blair unprecedently put climate change at the top of their agendas. We knew that altogether nations are critical for international agreements, national targets, and regulatory and financial frameworks. But we also knew that cities are centre stage when it comes to practical action on the ground to deliver and even exceed those targets.
Leadership is crucial, but cities will not meet great success if they work in isolation. Leaders need to collaborate to meet high targets. Cities can go far on their own, but together they can go much further.
Underpinning all of the C40’s accomplishments has been this ethic of extraordinary collaboration. It has been a huge collective effort, under the leadership of successive Mayors Livingstone of London, Miller of Toronto, Bloomberg of New York, and currently Paes of Rio de Janiero. It has also been bolstered by the enduring support of President Clinton. As we enter the next decade the C40 is in the very good hands of executive director Mark Watts, who was there with us at the beginning.
We are looking ahead as well to a decade that is absolutely critical in the world’s efforts to combat climate change. As we approach the Paris conference later this year, nations must step up the plate, but it is the cities that will be powering the action.