According to the world’s leading scientists, global emissions must peak by 2020 and then begin to decline rapidly if there is any hope of delivering the Paris Agreement and keeping global average temperature to rise to between 1.5 and 2 ̊C. Today, C40 announced that 27 of its cities have reached peak emissions.1 Peaking defines the point in time where emissions switch from increasing to decreasing, and represents a critical turning point in converting the Paris Agreement from aspiration into reality. The longer peaking is delayed, the later global emissions start to decline, and the more difficult it will be to limit global warming.
Deadline 2020: How cities will get the job done2 concludes that for C40 cities to contribute their fair share of global emissions reduction, aggregate C40 emissions will need to peak in 2020. Considering the UNFCCC’s principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, the report identifies four trajectories: steep decline, steady decline, early peak and late peak3. On average, cities in the Global North – on the steep and steady decline trajectories – will need to have reached peak emissions by 2020 at the latest, whilst cities in the Global South – on the early and late peak trajectories, and with much lower levels of emissions – may continue to grow their overall emissions until between 2030 and 2035 before they too must peak.
The number of C40 cities that have already peaked increased from 6 cities by 2000, to 22 by 2010 and 27 cities in 2012, the latest year our methodology allows peaking to be identified4. By the end of 2020, a total of 66 cities are expected to be able to demonstrate that they too have peaked5, representing 69% of C40 city emissions6. A further 22 C40 cities in the Global South have made a commitment to deliver action consistent with the ambitions of the Paris Agreement and reduce their emissions to net zero by 2050. Thus the total number of C40 cities that have either already peaked, are expected to peak in the next few years or have committed to peaking is 88 cities, representing 85% of C40 city emissions.
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