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Local Governments Can Directly Contribute to the Paris Agreement ‘Global Stocktake’. ICLEI and Partners Previewed How at Climate Week NYC. (Photo Essay)

Leaders in the ICLEI and Climate Mayors networks contribute to the #Stocktake4ClimateEmergency preview event by sharing stories of ambitious, local-level climate action. From Left: Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla, City of Hoboken, NJ; Mayor Caroline Simmons, City of Stamford, CT; Mayor Nicola Armacost, Village of Hastings-on-Hudson, NY; Barkha Patel, Director of Infrastructure, City of Jersey City, NJ, on behalf of Mayor Fulop; Angie Fyfe, Executive Director of ICLEI USA; and Mayor Errick D. Simmons, City of Greenville, MS.

The next phase of the Paris Agreement should be marked by collaboration across all levels of government. The local government constituency to the United Nations made progress on this aim last year — with recent developments during this summer’s Bonn Climate Conference opening a pathway for direct local-level input to the Paris Agreement.

On the road to COP26 in Glasgow last year, more than 60 countries submitted stepped-up Paris Agreement plans that attributed their ability to raise ambition to the fact that local governments were doing a lot of the work. Climate action in cities, towns, and counties is essential if countries will meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, this new set of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) seemed to indicate.

Amid this recognition, ICLEI and our partners in the Local Government and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) group for the UN Climate body secured an advocacy victory at COP26. As part of the Glasgow Climate Pact, “collaborations across levels of government” made its way into the preamble of the Paris Agreement.

Later, in June this year, the UNFCCC made further recognition that local governments are key to not only achieving success limiting global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees, but understanding where we are at today and setting the vision going forward. The Paris Agreement mandates that every 5 years, a “Global Stocktake” process will take place to show progress toward the Paris goals. Until this year, this was a process only nations contributed to in an official way. At the Bonn Climate Conference, local communities were recognized as official contributors, opening the door for cities to make a direct contribution to the UNFCCC.

Today’s event previews the process that allows us to do that.

Previewing the #Stocktake4ClimateEmergency at Climate Week NYC

In order to preview what this local-level exercise can look like and open an invitation for global cities to be involve, ICLEI USA with New York City Mayor’s Office, Climate Mayors, The Institute for Sustainable Cities at Hunter College, the Urban Climate Change Research Network at Columbia University, and CDP hosted a #Stocktake4ClimateEmergency event on September 21, 2022, at Climate Week NYC.

The photos below recount the day’s event, which brought together Mayors with IPCC scientists, youth leadership and local government networks in support of this unique opportunity for cities and regions to send their contributions to the UNFCCC.

The event showed that these Local Stocktake events, we will be answering three important questions:

  • Where do we believe our country is at on its Paris climate plan and how well does our own city, town or county’s Climate Action Plan support progress?
  • Where do we want to go from here?
  • How do we get there in a way that is environmentally just?

The mayors and other leaders in the room make climate change a top priority in their communities and they have lessons to share with the global community. Local stocktake events facilitate this sharing.

Host a Paris Agreement Stocktake Event in Your Community

Every community is invited to take part, hosting your own local stocktake event in 2023! At the Daring Cities conference on October 7, 2022, ICLEI and the partners will release a #Stocktake4ClimateEmergency Toolkit that makes it easy for any city, town or county to host your own event.

Earth Day will be a key moment and the event welcomed Earth Day Network as a partner to help facilitate stocktake events globally around this special day of global activism.

It’s time to move into “emergency mode” in this next phase of the Paris Agreement. Contact to join our list for receiving the #Stocktake4ClimateEmergency on October 7 and learn more how to host your event in 2023.

The #Stocktake4ClimateEmergency event was hosted on September 21 in the historic Roosevelt House, a double townhouse located at 47-49 East 65th Street. Kicking off the event, Harold Holzer, Director of Hunter College’s Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute, shared the unique history of the house for expanding thinking and American public policy.

The Four Freedoms, framed in the Roosevelt House, exemplify the spirit of open and inclusive dialogue, which also serves as a core tenet of the #Stocktake4ClimateEmergency process. The stocktake is modeled after 2018’s Talanoa Dialogues, promoted by the Government of Fiji as COP24 Presidency to bring the talanoa inclusivity of Fiji to the climate negotiations.

Anthony Fiore, New York City’s Chief Decarbonization Officer, welcomed participants with examples of NYC’s leading work on building decarbonization and a long history of working with community activists to create ever more ambitious climate policy. New York City is the first U.S. city to commit to hosting a Paris Agreement local stocktake event.

Advocating that youth not only be given a seat at the negotiating table, but that youth recommendations be taken seriously throughout a busy calendar of UNFCCC negotiations, Marie-Claire Graf, Co-Founder of Youth Negotiators Academy and representative of the YOUNGO constituency to the UN, urged attendees to lift up youth in their communities as part of the process.

Mayor Frank Cownie, City of Des Moines and ICLEI Global President, recounted the devastating climate impacts that have racked his city over the past decade, including a derech of inland hurricane-force winds that wrecked homes and infrastructure in 2020. As President of ICLEI, a network of 2,500 local governments around the world, Mayor Cownie is charged with bringing the perspectives of cities and regions to the UNFCCC, G7 and other venues. 

In remarks from the floor, Colin Wellenkamp, Executive Director of Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, explained how nature-based solutions are safeguarding river towns against climate impacts. Recent years have brought billions of dollars in damage to river counties and MRCTI is leading a multi-million dollar effort to restore biodiversity and habitat to protect against flood events.

Speaking remotely from South Africa and Germany to speak with Dr. William Solecki, Professor of Geography, Hunter College and Director of CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities, IPCC contributing scientists Dr. Debra Roberts  and Dr. Matthias Garschagen shows that the science is clear: cities and towns are facing unprecedented climate challenges but also hold several keys to rapid decarbonization.

During the Leaders Panel, mayors share a lighter moment in their search for solutions to safeguard their communities while quickly decarbonizing. From left: Barkha Patel, Director of Infrastructure, City of Jersey City, NJ; Mayor Caroline Simmons, City of Stamford, CT; Mayor Nicola Armacost, Village of Hastings-on-Hudson, NY; and Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla, City of Hoboken, NJ.