Global Covenant of Mayors: cities’ innovation and shared commitments to climate action

By Jonny Sadler on 04.06.18

Cities are climate leaders. We have seen that statement confirmed many times since the birth of the city-focused global climate movement that started over 10 years ago. In cities like Adelaide and Copenhagen with their carbon neutral commitments. In UN policy through the Paris Agreement and Marrakech Partnership. And through the growing number of city networks whose memberships are growing by the day.


The Global Covenant of Mayors (GCoM) is the biggest of these networks – over 9,000 cities are currently members, covering 10% of the world’s population, and growing all the time. That’s good news for those who believe that cities are the place where we will find solutions to the world’s climate challenges.


However, despite the progress being made and the growing number of cities committing to act, one thing remains constant – we are not yet seeing the rate and scale of progress we need to keep global warming to well below 2oC.


It is this stark fact that was on the table at last month’s Mayor’s Roundtable in Malmö, Sweden – and most importantly the question ‘what do cities need to do to get on track for the Paris Agreement?’ The event was part of the wider ‘Innovate4Cities’ initiative that was launched in Edmonton, Canada, in March 2018.


Supported by the GCoM team, Mayors, business leaders and academic experts are coming together during 2018 to define a new global programme for climate research and innovation. Towards the end of 2018, in time for COP24 in Katowice, the GCoM team and partners will be presenting the proposed programme to national governments with the very clear statement – cities have the potential, they now need the tools and resources to all become climate leaders, right across the world.


I was there to talk about Manchester’s experiences from working in the city and through EU-funded climate research and innovation projects such as GrowGreen ( The discussions were as stimulating and inspiring as you’d expect with people like the Mayor of Vancouver, Gregor Robertson, the Mayor of Malmö, Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh and the ex-Mayor of Portland, Samuel Adams.


As generous payment for our contributions, I took away three key messages for Manchester:


1) Adopt a science-based carbon-budget that is aligned with the Paris Agreement – the Manchester Climate Change Board will be discussing this at their next meeting on 19th June 2018 (minutes to follow here).


2) Establish governance structures so citizens and organisations can contribute to local climate change policy development and implementation – this has been at the heart of Manchester’s approach to climate change policy since the development of the Manchester: A Certain Future strategy in 2009, and continues to be championed by the city’s new climate change board.


3) When Manchester delivers pilots and demonstration projects we also need to create business models and funding strategies to rapidly apply and up-scale what we have learned – we have already built this in to the GrowGreen project (led by Manchester City Council and Manchester Climate Change Agency) but we will need this to become core business as the city moves forward. (Further information on some of our key projects is here)


Exactly what the outcomes from the Roundtable are, we will find out later in the year. For now though, this was another international event that Manchester has been invited to, to share our experiences and learn from others. That says a lot about our reputation with key partners like the European Commission and the Global Covenant of Mayors. Whatever happens in March 2019, these are relationships that Manchester must work hard to keep, in whatever form we can. And I’m pleased to say, it’s work that the Climate Change Agency is very much committed to being part of.


Further information:


Roundtable information:


Edmonton Declaration for Cities:


Global Covenant of Mayors:


CO2 Impact

Manchester Climate Change Agency is a Carbon Literate Organisation and is committed to understanding and managing the environmental impact of our activities. We are currently at the ‘understanding’ stage of this work, with details on how we will manage the impact to follow. The CO2 emissions from the flights to this event were 243.6kg, calculated using the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) carbon emissions calculator.