Local governments that signed the adhesion to the Global Covenant of Mayors for the Climate and Energy in Latin America and the Caribbean (GCoM-LAC) already have successes in the commitment to follow up the actions in search of a more sustainable and resilient future in the cities. Municipalities in the region are supported by the broad community that makes up the GCoM-LAC to advance climate action in three key areas: mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, identifying and adapting to the risks associated with climate change and increasing access clean and affordable energy.
According to data reported by city halls to the unified CDP & ICLEI platform and validated last year, 94 cities had already achieved at least one of the steps related to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, 82 reached the stage of Adaptation to climate change and 33 are in Compliance with the current pillars of the Covenant, that is, they are cities that carried out all the sub-stages of mitigation and adaptation, which are part of the city’s Climate Action Plan. 116 cities worldwide has reached Compliance which means that more than 25% of those counties are in Latin America and Caribbean
Each of these steps is proposed with the purpose of ensuring solid phases of diagnosis, establishment of goals and objectives for adaptation and mitigation, planning and monitoring. In addition, they allow aggregation and comparison with the actions of other cities. All stages have steps for their complete fulfillment.
In terms of mitigation, it is proposed that cities submit their greenhouse gas (GHG) emission inventories, establish and communicate their emission reduction targets and develop actions to achieve these goals. The progress in adaptation is perceived when there is the preparation and submission of an assessment of climate risks and vulnerabilities, the establishment of objectives and the preparation of a plan at the local level.
It is then expected that local governments will be able to develop projects for mitigation and adaptation to climate change (climate resilience), which can be presented in two separate plans or in a single integrated plan. The Covenant, in Latin America and the Caribbean, receives the data reported in relation to each of these stages and their respective sub-stages through the unified CDP & ICLEI platform, validating them with partner institutions.
To recognize and give transparency to the municipalities’ initiatives under the Covenant, the GCoM global secretariat decorated these cities with medals that symbolize the commitment made with the largest global alliance of local leaders to actively combat climate change and recognized the progress of these cities. The profiles of the alliance’s example cities demonstrate the climate action of each of them.
In the Adaptation stage, 50 of the 82 municipalities that received the medal presented plans for their territories, such as Providencia, in Chile. The city, which has approximately 120 thousand inhabitants, created the Local Water Strategy, a water management plan, covering the period 2020-2030. This municipal management tool was born as an initiative for diagnosis, planning and reflection around water resources.
The municipality took into account the reality of water scarcity and the effects derived from climate change to plan a route with 41 actions, both in the short, medium and long term. In addition, the “Veredones Sustentables” program was added, incorporating drainage systems and species replacement in green areas. Complementing the initiatives, the Local Water Management Ordinance controls irrigation schedules due to drought and prohibits the inappropriate use of drinking water.
Regarding Mitigation, 42 of the 94 cities in Latin America and the Caribbean that received this medal presented a structured plan, as is the case of Belo Horizonte, in Brazil. The city is expected to reach 3 million inhabitants in 2030 and has at the Biogas Energy Use Center, in operation since 2010, the largest greenhouse mitigation project in the municipality. The station processes and burns the methane gas produced from the decomposition of the waste landfilled in the old landfill, generating electricity, which is purchased by the Companhia Energética do Estado de Minas Gerais and distributed in its network.
The generation of energy from biogas contributes to the reduction of emissions responsible for the greenhouse effect, failing to release about 4 million tons of CO2 equivalent in the atmosphere in 15 years. Biogas is also used as fuel to run three engines capable of generating enough electricity to supply up to 20,000 homes. Belo Horizonte also executes agroforestry projects and revegetation of degraded areas, planting seedlings around schools, among others.
In order to reach the compliance status, the city that signed the Pact must have fulfilled all the previous steps: having a mitigation and adaptation action plan based on a diagnosis of the current situation, an inventory of emissions and GHG reduction targets, risk and vulnerability analysis, besides paying attention to monitoring the implementation of the city’s climate actions. This is the case, for example in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which has maintained its medal since 2015.
In its climate action plan for 2009, the Argentine capital determined actions in the areas of the public sector and the community in the areas of greatest emission of greenhouse gases: waste, transport and energy for supplying homes and buildings in general, which is the stationary energy.
The latter, which corresponded to 59% of emissions, gained measures related to the efficiency in the consumption of electricity and fossil fuels (mainly natural gas) and the generation of energy with renewable sources in the residential, commercial, industrial sectors, local government facilities and on public roads. With more than three million inhabitants, the city had managed, by 2015, to reduce emissions in the energy sector by 21% with the measures adopted.
The 2020 climate plan projects that, by 2030, the city’s emission level will reach 17.3 million tons of CO2. The mitigation objectives of Buenos Aires, which is part of the C40 group, point to a 30% reduction in emissions for the next decade.
Think global, act local
In Latin America and the Caribbean, the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy has reached more than 400 participating cities. The global community of local governments already has more than 10,000 cities on six continents, representing more than 800 million citizens worldwide. The global network is committed to an ambitious action to provide a historic and powerful response to climate change.