Want governments to end fuel subsidies
By Udeme Akpan
C40 Cities, a network of the world’s mega cities committed to addressing climate change, has released C40 Mayors and Governors Agenda for a Green and Just Recovery outlining bold steps to deliver an equitable and sustainable recovery from the COVID -19 pandemic and an end to fossil fuel subsidies.
The agenda includes specific measures that are already being delivered and endorsed in many cities around the continent including Freetown, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Addis Ababa, Nairobi, Lagos and Accra.
The outcome of the plan seeks to create a ‘new normal’, which will identify, contain and proactively prepare cities for future pandemics, while addressing systemic injustices and playing a key role in keeping global heating below the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement.
Amongst the measures championed by mayors and governors today include providing immediate access to water to vulnerable communities and institutions, issuing permits for citizens to work and generate income, green job creation programmes; increased rights and support for all workers whose efforts proved essential during the COVID-19 pandemic; investments in green industries such as guaranteed access to resilient public services, particularly for the most vulnerable; building retrofit programmes; investing in safe and reliable mass transit, and new protected spaces for pedestrians and cyclists.
Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone said: “Freetown’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will be an uphill climb. But as a city, we will ensure that like our response and recovery is focused on bringing some of the city’s most vulnerable along. Freetown’s commitment to improving public services post-COVID, particularly sanitation, will make our city more livable for all whilst creating much needed jobs in the circular economy.”
In Freetown, Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr rapidly provided sustainable access to water to vulnerable and important public spaces in the city such as informal settlements, markets and peripheral health units as a major component of the city’s COVID -19 response plan.
Furthermore, in South Africa’s major cities, Cape Town and Johannesburg, mayors have also developed an informal trader policy through regional consultative workshops with leaders and trader associations.
In response to the COVID -19 lockdown, the cities recognised informal traders as providers of essential goods and services under the Disaster Management Act and issued permits allowing informal traders to work and generate income.
Recognising that delivering an equitable, low carbon recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will require a global effort, C40 Cities and its allies have also called on national governments to support their efforts.
C40 mayors and governors call for commitments to “ensure that all economic recovery funds and stimulus packages support a fair and sustainable transition.”
Calling for an end to all public investments in fossil fuels, C40 mayors and governors are clear; “Nations must seize this moment to decisively move away from investments in high carbon and fossil fuel intensive industries and increase investments in a low carbon future.”
The mayors and governors’ agenda makes clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has starkly exposed deep inequalities in cities and across cities in different regions of the world, including by disproportionately impacting black people, indigenous communities and people of colour, low-income communities, isolated elderly, and those living in informal settlements.
Mayors and governors commit to addressing these injustices, and call on national governments to ensure stimulus investment and recovery funds create more just and inclusive societies and communities, and directly address long-standing inequalities and ongoing discrimination based on race, gender and income.
The mayor’s agenda was released by the C40 Global Mayors and Governors COVID-19 Recovery Task Force, established at the direction of C40 Chair and Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, and chaired by Mayor of Milan Giuseppe Sala.
The task force was guided by a statement of principles already endorsed by more than 40 city leaders from around the world.
African mayors have been collaborating throughout their response to the COVID-19 crisis. That unparalleled cooperation will form the basis of the green recovery in the world’s leading cities.