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Failure to reach UN climate change agreement could be “very dangerous,” warn influential city mayors

18/11/2015 / Kaj

Twenty city mayors from five Nordic countries have joined forces in urging world governments to reach meaningful agreements at the forthcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Paris. In an op-ed published in the magazine Cities Today, the influential group warns that any repeat of disputes which hampered previous summits would prove “very dangerous, since the situation today is graver than it was five years ago.”

It is hoped that global delegates at the Paris conference, which is set to begin in under a month, can reach a legally binding agreement on climate change. To do so would be “a major step towards sustainable development and a safer environment for all,” the mayors argue.

But citing the political wrangling of 2009’s Copenhagen conference – which was widely regarded as a failure – the Nordic representatives express alarm at the potential consequences of another collapse in talks. With the world’s environmental position “more challenging” than it was in 2009, the group’s call for action says that advances in climate sciences show the situation to be even more urgent than before. “A good agreement will not happen on its own,” the co-signed article argues. “If governments are to take bold actions, they must feel both the pressure and the support from cities, businesses, civil society, scientists and many other stakeholders.

“For many, the words ‘climate change conference’ are a reminder of the conference in Copenhagen [which] was not the success many had hoped for, since the participating governments could not agree. Of course, there is a risk that the same situation might be repeated in Paris in December.”

The influential mayors – who hail from Stockholm, Helsinki, Reykjavik and other major cities across the Nordic region – also expressed their aim of sharing their successes promoting sustainability. With a collective track record of significantly reducing carbon emissions in their cities, the group hopes to spread best practice at the Paris conference via the Compact of Mayors – currently the largest coalition of city leaders addressing climate change in the world.

“Our cities are, in different ways, at the forefront of the global shift to a carbon-neutral future and more sustainable economies and societies, where Nordic solutions are showing the way forward,” the article argues. “We are also exploring new forms of cooperation for climate action between us, in order to share our best examples, spread our best practices and also learn from each others’ failings.”

For further information or interview contact Kaj Embrén on +44(0) 7400 538926 or

The full text can be found at

Swedish version:

Can city mayors lead the way on sustainable development?