Cash-strapped cities struggle to clean up their climate act

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BARCELONA: The world’s cities cannot take action fast enough to keep global warming within internationally agreed limits because they lack the money to pay for low-carbon infrastructure, experts say.

James Alexander, director of the finance programme at the C40 network of megacities committed to tackling climate change, said its 91 cities would by 2025 have used up their share of the “carbon budget” still available to hold global temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius if they don’t reduce emissions more rapidly.

The C40 group is working to “dramatically cut the curve” of planet-warming emissions from cities, which produce more than 70 per cent of total global emissions, but they need better access to finance to help them do it, he said.

“Finance remains the biggest barrier,” he emphasised at a meeting recently held in Barcelona on mobilising investment in clean infrastructure. Lack of cash “is causing these actions not to take place as rapidly as we need.” Development banks and international climate funds should put more focus on cities in the projects they back, he added. Stephen Hammer, manager for climate policy at the World Bank Group, said bank officials saw cities as a strong growth area and had been trying to identify urban opportunities. The Bank is currently supporting seven urban transport projects, he said. They include the construction of a new metro line in Ecuador’s capital, Quito, and the development of a bus rapid transit corridor in Dakar, Senegal. In 2014, the World Bank provided over $3 billion in urban climate finance and technical assistance, Hammer added.

The European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development also have programmes to help cities design projects and find funds for them, their representatives said.