The Paris Agreement on climate change set ambitious targets to hold the increase of global average temperature to well below 2oC above pre-industrial levels (Article 2) and strengthen efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels. To achieve these ambitious targets, the Paris Agreement requests all parties to implement domestic mitigation measures (Article 4). Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) on greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets and their implementation are expected to play a major role in achieving the global climate targets.
The Asia-Pacific region is the world’s largest regional emitter of GHGs, accounting for more than 50 per cent of total global emissions1. Urban areas in the region have huge carbon footprints, as they are responsible for most of the region’s economic production. The region’s cities are expanding both in size and number at an unprecedented rate. Since 2000, urban population has increased by 630 million, and by 2018 Asia-Pacific cities housed almost half of the world’s urban population. It is projected that two out of three people in the region will live in its cities by 20502 . Rapid growth in GHG emissions from cities can be expected as a result of increasing concentration of production activities in urban areas and high-consumption lifestyles associated with growing affluence. In addition, cities are most vulnerable to climate change and already experiencing its impacts, as well as disasters resulting from floods, droughts, landslides and strong typhoons.
Actions by and in Asia-Pacific cities will be critical to achieving the 1.5oC/2oC global targets as well as national and local climate change targets. The importance of actions by and in cities has been acknowledged in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted in 2015, as well as the New Urban Agenda, endorsed by the UN General Assembly in 2016. Targets of SDG 11 on sustainable cities and human settlements relevant to climate change mitigation and adaptation include sustainable transport systems, green buildings, and reduction of environmental impacts of cities. The New Urban Agenda also includes specific commitments to reduce GHG emissions in all relevant sectors in line with the Paris Agreement.