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Mayors Urge Recovery Based on Green Jobs, ‘15-Minute’ Cities

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Green job creation, support for essential workers, investment in green industries, and funding for building retrofits, transit, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, and “resilient public services” are cornerstones of a green and just recovery program released Wednesday by C40 Cities.

“The proposal calls for substantial investments in affordable housing and public transportation, the permanent banning of cars from many city streets, the end of public investment in and subsidies for fossil fuels, and an embrace of the ‘15-minute city’ paradigm,” Grist reports [1].

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The release came on the same day that the new Energy Policy Tracker [3] showed fossil industries receiving the lion’s share of governments’ pandemic recovery funding, compared to green energy or other carbon reduction measures.

The big city mayors who signed on to the release are calling on national governments to “ensure that all economic recovery funds and stimulus packages support a fair and sustainable transition,” while putting an end to public investment in fossil fuels, C40 said [4] in a release.

“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.”

“Mayors see the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis as they are: global challenges that pose massive threats to our lives and livelihoods—and demand urgent action to correct structural inequities, improve public health, and create more inclusive economies,” said C40 Cities Chair and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “The way we shape our recovery will define our cities for generations to come, and this C40 agenda will leverage the collective power that mayors wield to help protect our planet and lay the foundation for a more just and resilient future.”

The mayors’ 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,” C40 states. “Mayors 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 release includes statements from 25 mayors and other assorted luminaries associated with the report.

“New Orleans, like many cities, bears the dual burdens of climate crises and COVID-19,” said New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “I’m proud to partner with my colleagues from around the world in developing future-oriented solutions for an equitable and green recovery.”

“Freetown’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will be an uphill climb,” said Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone. “But as a city, we will ensure that like our response, 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 times of uncertainty, citizens and businesses turn to government for answers and guidance,” said Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb. “It is our duty to involve everyone to achieve our aim—a better, greener, more equal and just society. We can and will build on the sense of community that the COVID-19 lockdowns have awakened in our cities. In the end, we will prevail and our cities will continue to be attractive and lively, stronger, more balanced, than before.”

“In order to face the challenges ahead of us, we must spare no effort to increase our actions towards ecological transition,” said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante. “We need a forward-thinking approach to accelerate our economic recovery through green, sustainable, and inclusive initiatives and create new industries and jobs that will drive wider benefits for our residents and businesses. Economic recovery must first come through investments in infrastructure that will help us rethink a greener and fairer city, including through public transit, parks, and social housing.”