Honorable Mayor, Mr. Namchoon Park, Incheon Metropolitan City,
Mr. Yannick Glemarec, Executive Director of the Green Climate Fund,
Ms. Sun-Jin Yun, Co-Chair of the Presidential Committee on Carbon Neutrality of the Republic of Korea,
Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
At COP26, the Parties to the Paris Agreement adopted the “Glasgow Climate Pact”, well recognizing the need for rapid, deep and sustained emission cuts by 45 per cent by 2030 at 2010 levels and achieving net-zero around mid-century globally to keep alive the 1.5c goal.
In this journey, cities are at the frontline of climate crises and responses.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has concluded that cities and urban infrastructure are one of four critical global systems that are key to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and limiting long-term global warming levels to less than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
As the majority of the Asian and Pacific region became urban in 2019, with more than 2.3 billion people now living in cities, cities are a vital part of the solution to achieve the carbon neutrality goals in a just and equitable manner.
An ESCAP report Is 1.5°C within Reach for the Asia-Pacific Region? shows that commitments and targets in nationally determined contributions in Asia-Pacific countries, particularly the G20 regional members and the top 10 regional emitters, are too low.
The current regional targets in NDCs represent an increase of 34 per cent of the emission levels of 2010, and, hence, the climate ambition must be significantly enhanced to achieve carbon neutrality in the decade 2050- 2060.
In this connection, mega-cities and those in large and rapidly growing secondary cities are shaping emission pathways in this critical decade for climate ambition.
While being major GHG emitters, many large cities also constitute an immediate potential for reducing emissions by deploying innovative solutions.
Secondary cities are also vital to breaking dependency on high-carbon development as they grow to large cities. ESCAP has provided guidance in The Future of Asian & Pacific Cities report that focuses on urban planning, building resilience, leveraging smart technologies, and enabling urban finance to ensure the cities of tomorrow are smart, sustainable, resilient and inclusive.
Cities and communities in the lowest income countries should not be left behind and must be included in the just transition to net-zero emissions.
Thus, ESCAP, with its member States, especially those in North-East Asia, has been actively engaging with cities on their climate action through the Low Carbon City Platform under the North-East Asian Subregional Programme for Environmental Cooperation (NEASPEC).
In addition to this effort, today we are very honored to inaugurate the 1st International Forum on Low Carbon Cities as part of the extended partnership between ESCAP and the Incheon Metropolitan City for promoting climate action at the city level.
This Forum aims to bring forward innovative and inclusive approaches and solutions to accelerate the carbon-neutral transition in and beyond the Asian-Pacific region.
This will not only benefit the climate but also truly improve the livelihoods and build resilience among households and bring forward trans-generational changes.
Cities are the gateway to more ambitious climate action and the widest engagement we need to win the battle against climate change.
I wish the Forum all the success.
Thank you very much.