Open letter to COP27 world leaders by C40 city mayors and governors

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We are mayors from some of the biggest, most influential cities around the world.

The cities we represent are different but many of the challenges we face are the same.

We write this at an unprecedented time in our history – as conflict, climate and high inflation threaten people’s lives and livelihoods.

We can only tackle these crises together with a shared plan of action.

We have that plan – the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – a ‘To-Do List’ for the world.

This week, as world leaders gather at COP27 – we recommit ourselves to delivering them.

Because we know that without climate action at every level, we will never achieve the rest of the Goals and create a future where everyone can thrive on a healthy planet.

But we can’t do it alone. In order to halve emissions by 2030, we need to take urgent action.

The best way to protect people everywhere from rising prices, polluted air and extreme weather is to invest in cleaner, greener cities, not fossil fuels.

We are driving investment through science-based policies, but further support is needed from national governments, particularly to improve resilience to climate impacts.

We need national leaders to unlock the finance to support the critical work of city leaders.

We need climate justice because the effects of the climate crisis won’t impact all equally.

We need the private sector to work in partnership with us to mobilise resources, create good green jobs and invest in innovation.

And we need citizens everywhere to help make the Global Goals a reality in their communities.


Signed on behalf of the C40 cities by:

  • Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London and Chair of C40 Cities
  • Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Mayor of Freetown
  • Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin
  • Yuriko Koike, Governor of Tokyo
  • Md. Atiqul Islam, Mayor of Dhaka North
  • Claudia López Hernández, Mayor of Bogotá
  • Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles
  • Elizabeth Sackey, Mayor of Accra
  • Randall Williams, Executive Mayor of Tshwane
  • Sophie Haestorp Andersen, Lord Mayor of Copenhagen


Mayors from around the world have a clear message for global leaders attending the 27th United Nations Climate Change conference (COP27): The best way to protect people everywhere from rising prices, polluted air and extreme weather, and to secure good jobs in fairer societies, is to invest in cleaner, greener cities, not fossil fuels.

Current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) fall far short of the Paris Agreement’s ambition of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and limiting global warming to 1.5oC compared to pre-industrial levels, according to a UN Climate Change report published last month. In many countries, inadequate NDCs force unsustainable levels of fossil gas use in and around cities despite the fact that fossil gas leads to significant GHG emissions, increases air pollution, costs more and generates fewer jobs than clean energy solutions.

New C40 research reveals that fossil gas use contributed almost as much as coal power plants to premature deaths in 2020 and current NDCs would result in 776,000 more premature deaths in C40 cities by 2050, compared to a 1.5oC scenario. In contradiction with their own inadequate NDCs, key nations are undertaking a gas expansion that will add 86% to gas use capacity in and around C40 cities by 2035, while a 1.5oC scenario would require a 30% decrease.

While in the seven years since world leaders signed the Paris Agreement, no nation has developed 1.5°C-compatible plans, 62 C40 cities have done so, with more in the works. Three quarters of C40 cities are reducing emissions faster than their respective nation states. Thanks to the work of cities around the world, air pollution is down 5%.

This week, C40 unveiled the NDC Ambition Handbook for countries to identify the most impactful and inclusive actions to be implemented across sectors including energy, transport, buildings, waste, construction and urban planning. The handbook is inspired by the experience of cities taking climate action, and builds on the Multilevel Climate Action Playbook, whose second edition will be published 15 November at COP27 by the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy.

Last month, at the C40 World Mayors Summit, city leaders came together to announce that the pipeline of projects in C40 cities can deliver 50 million green jobs by 2030 – a third more than business as usual. Mayors are creating huge investment opportunities in zero-emission, inclusive and efficient projects and infrastructure, yet more money still goes into fossil fuels and parts of the economy that increase, not decrease, emissions.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London and C40 Chair, asked the delegation of mayors to be led by Freetown and Dhaka North, recognising the importance of Global South voices in the fight against climate change.

Sadiq Khan said: “The climate emergency is the biggest global threat we face today. The cost of inaction, to our economies, livelihoods, environment and the health of our citizens is far greater than the cost of taking action. 

“Earlier this month, I proudly stood alongside mayors from all across the globe at the C40 World Mayors Summit and affirmed that cities would be doers not delayers in the fight against climate change. I urge world leaders to take time to listen and learn from all the great work C40 mayors have implemented around the world and set a similar example at COP27. We simply don’t have time to waste.” 

Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Mayor of Freetown and C40 Vice Chair, said: “Cities continue to be at the forefront of the climate crisis, providing and implementing innovative solutions to address the impacts of climate change in our communities. I am calling on world leaders to work with us at the city level, learning from our experiences and becoming trusted partners in the fight against climate change. 

“As a city, Freetown continues to not only share our stories with other African cities, we work with them to implement solutions. To address deforestation, we are working with community organisations, youth groups and the national government agencies to plant and grow 1 million trees; to mitigate against extreme heat, we are installing shade covers in markets across our city, providing shade to market women who previously traded under the scorching sun. I  encourage city leaders to tell their stories not only at COP27, but at every given opportunity, locally, nationally and on the international stage.”

Atiqul Islam, Mayor of Dhaka North and C40 Vice Chair, said: “Cities are laboratories of change, and they have been pursuing ambitious climate solutions even as national governments delay vital action. 

“Here in Dhaka North, we have created 24 parks across the city by recovering those lands from encroachers, and recovered a 2 kilometer long canal from an illegal truck stand and planted about 2,000 trees on its embankment. I call on world leaders to learn from and support mayors and city leaders in the impactful work they do every day to address the effects of global heating and to accelerate a green and just recovery from the pandemic.”

C40 Executive Director Mark Watts said: “It’s remarkable what cities are achieving, particularly given the multiple challenges of recent years. Cities are able to move quickly due to their capacity to work with one another, whether that’s technical collaborations, such as Beijing and Copenhagen swapping expertise to slash fuel consumption in district heating, or Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur’s collaboration to decarbonise the building sector. Now we have to step up that collaboration to be truly on track to halve emissions by 2030 in line with a 1.5°C trajectory. 

“We know we can do it – the 5% reduction in air pollution across C40 cities last year is similar to the scale of greenhouse gas emission reduction we need each year. Globally, if we are to avoid catastrophic global heating, then the kind of collaboration that is happening across C40, at a time of growing geo-political division, needs to become the norm.”

A delegation of mayors from C40 cities is attending COP27 to show how cities are already delivering the immediate, urgently needed action that puts the world on track to half emissions by 2030. C40 cities represented at COP27 include Abidjan, Accra, Amman, Austin, Dakar, Dhaka North, Durban, Freetown, Nairobi, Tokyo and Warsaw.


About C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group

C40 is a network of nearly 100 mayors of the world’s leading cities who are working to deliver the urgent action needed right now to confront the climate crisis and create a future where everyone, everywhere can thrive. Mayors of C40 cities are committed to using a science-based and people-focused approach to help the world limit global heating to 1.5°C and build healthy, equitable and resilient communities. Through a Global Green New Deal, mayors are working alongside a broad coalition of representatives from labour, business, the youth climate movement and civil society to go further and faster than ever before. 

The current Chair of C40 is Mayor of London Sadiq Khan; three-term Mayor of New York City Michael R. Bloomberg serves as President of the Board. C40’s work is made possible by our three strategic funders: Bloomberg Philanthropies, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), and Realdania.
To learn more about the work of C40 and our cities, please visit our website and C40 Knowledge Hub or follow us on TwitterInstagramFacebook and LinkedIn.


Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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