MobiliseYourCity’s stories from COP28

Eight years after the COP that saw the adoption of the Paris Agreement and the launch of our Partnership, it is with some ambivilance that MobiliseYourCity attended this 28th UNFCCC Conference of the Parties. The location of this COP in the UAE - a country known for building its economy on oil and gas – and its presidency by the Minister of Industry of the United Arab Emirates and head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), already augured gloomy outcomes from the negotiations between the Parties attending the conference. 

Despite this tricky context, MobiliseYourCity attended the COP to hold the interests of its member cities and countries high and ensure that the priorities to transition to sustainable urban mobility are on the international agenda. 

At the side event organised by Climate Compatible Growth on 4th December, we presented our solutions to collect data about the informal transport sector, which represents the largest form of public transport in most of the places we work with. We also highlighted the lack of resources to reform this complex sector despite its important contribution to GHG emissions in cities of the Global South. Other high-level speakers pointed to the lack of inclusion of the informal transport sector in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). They urged the transport community to address this issue in the coming years. The finance gap for the transition was also extensively debated, although some were encouraged to work on improving the channelling of existing resources and organising projects differently to better tap into climate finance. 

We discussed with UNEP and a representative from the City of Kathmandu, Nepal, the transformative power of pilot projects and Living Labs at the side event MobiliseYourCity co-organised with SOLUTIONSplus on December 5th. All speakers called for changing the perspective on pilot projects to consider them as a testing phase or preparatory project for a scaled-up version. Too often, however successful, pilot projects end without leading to anything bigger, despite the city's need for change at scale. 

At the Mauritanian and Moroccan pavilions, we were invited to join panel discussions to support local and regional governments in demonstrating to national governments their commitment to the fight against climate change and their large contribution to reducing GHG emissions. Cities and regions need not only resources from national governments to be able to take action at scale, but they also need better coordination and recognition of their important contributions. 

We continued making the case for multilevel action at the Multi-level action and urbanisation pavilion, together with the Mayor of Quelimane, UN-HABITAT, UITP, the Urban Living Lab Center, and ICLEI. Each speaker tried to identify the policies and actions with the highest potential to shift people towards sustainable and low-carbon mobility. In the MobiliseYourCity Partnership, this question is our highest concern. This is why we work with data and modelling. We know cities have limited resources and need help identifying the most impactful policies. The combination of our diagnosis and our Emissions Calculator, which allows us to compare scenarios, allows cities to identify precisely the policies with the highest potential to enable that shift. This then needs to be followed by strategic planning, and cities need the right framework to do so. This is why we also work with national governments to develop National Urban Mobility Policies or Investment Programs.  

This COP, as with many in the past, has confirmed that not all parties or national governments are always pushing for ambitious and urgent action on climate change in this content. This tricky context might nonetheless have had the advantage of serving as an uncomfortable reminder that our world is far from taking the right path to solve the climate crisis. Today, strong interests are going in the exact opposite direction. It is more important than ever to support cities committed to decarbonisation and achieving their Paris-compliant urban transport systems.