Updated: Jun 15
Mumbai has joined C40 cities to fight climate change, but what does that mean for its climate action agenda?
C40 is a network of nearly 100 mayors of the world’s largest and most influential cities who are leading in delivering the urgent and most ambitious action needed right now to help limit global heating to 1.5°C and build healthy, equitable, and resilient communities. It encourages cities to work together effectively, exchanges information, and take positive concrete, and long-term climate action. Currently, 97 countries that represent one-twelfth of the world's population are a part of C40. It has been said that these cities have the potential to deliver 40% of the emission reductions to meet the Paris Agreement targets.
C40's programme model provides extra services to member cities. The programmes are intended to strengthen and expand the efficacy of C40 networks, ensuring that city leaders working together can access a comprehensive spectrum of support resources to resolve the key obstacles to city climate action. Localized direct funding, increased data access, and broad-based partnered activities around finance, city diplomacy, and inclusive climate action are all examples of programmes that develop to meet city needs.
The most distinguishing characteristic of C40 is that it is built on efficiency metrics. C40 member cities earn their membership through action. The C40’s Steering Committee of mayors set the minimum membership criteria and ensures the integrity of C40 as a network of climate leaders. Cities that fail to meet these standards will be kicked out of C40. This, combined with collaborating within a peer community of world-leading cities taking bold and creative climate action, creates healthy competitiveness, motivating C40 cities to go even further in their attempts to combat climate change. To represent the diversity of cities taking action to combat climate change, C40 provides three membership categories: megacities, innovator cities, and observer cities. These groups take into account factors like population size, economic performance, environmental leadership, and the length of a city's membership.
Recently Mumbai became the sixth Indian city to become a member of the C40. This is a huge and much-needed step taken by Mumbai in battling climate change. According to various studies, anthropogenic climate change could flood large portions of Mumbai by 2050. Mumbai is also often included in lists of cities threatened by climate change. Climate change is not a remote phenomenon, as shown by cyclones battering Mumbai's coastlines and unseasonal, heavy rains. Owing to a combination of global warming, unplanned growth, and reduced green cover, unusually heavy downpours and flooding may become the city's new normal. Developers have eroded beaches, damaged mangroves, clogged vital rivers, and devastated water-holding lands in their numerous attempts to expand the region.
There is also the issue of the urban heat island effect in Mumbai and heat stress as a public health issue. During the day, concrete absorbs and stores heat, then releases it at night. As a result, temperatures in densely populated areas are higher than in the suburbs or non-urban areas.
(Also Read: A Brief History: Navi Mumbai’s Wetlands)
Additionally, waters off the coast of Mumbai are warming and becoming increasingly polluted. The city's rivers have become foul as a result of ineffective solid and liquid waste management. Mumbai has been getting warmer in some areas, more polluted in others, running out of natural resources, and becoming more vulnerable to unpredictable but heavy rain and storms.
While the circumstances in each city are different, Mumbai’s issues are made up of elements that are similar to those of other cities. Being a part of C40 can make a huge difference for Mumbai. Many C40 cities, including Auckland, Berlin, Lima, Rome, Paris, and Mexico City opened or improved over 1,000 km of temporary or extended bike lanes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing safe walking and cycling and reducing pressure on public transportation, particularly for critical staff. The same can be done in Mumbai to tackle air pollution and mobility issues.
(Also Read: Climate Change as an Issue of Mobility and Equity)
The C40 research Toward a Healthier World, published in 2020, also defined priority urban actions in 30 cities that can address both climate change and air pollution. These initiatives include renewable transportation, buildings, and manufacturing, as well as the transition to a low-carbon electricity grid. These could result in an 87 per cent reduction in GHG emissions, and a 49 per cent reduction in PM2.5 levels if adopted by C40 cities. High population density cities like Mumbai, often situated at strategic yet vulnerable locations, are particularly exposed to storms, floods, droughts, and heatwaves. Due to climate change, these weather events are expected to occur more often and become more severe.
Adaptation is essential to ensure the long-term prosperity of cities and the well-being of their residents. Cool Cities, Connecting Delta Cities, Urban Flooding, and Water Security Networks are C40 initiatives that promote the creation of solutions to address high-impact climate risks and incorporate adaptation considerations through energy, buildings, transportation, planning, and waste management. As a financial centre, Mumbai's economy is skewed towards service sectors and high-tech manufacturing, rather than heavy industry and agriculture. The majority of goods consumed by residents are often imported. If C40 mayors can influence patterns of consumption to be less carbon-intensive, they can have a significant impact on the economy outside their city.
Apart from being a C40 city, the city also has a Maharashtra-wide climate policy called Majhi Vasundhra. Majhi Vasundhara focuses on restoring the five elements of nature through six initiatives. The Environment and Climate Change Department, Govt. of Maharashtra, targeted these initiatives to engage stakeholders from different sectors and age groups to sensitize them about sustainable development and climate change. Majhi Vasundhara works with Maharashtra's local governments to define new action points for environmental improvement. It aims to establish connections with government agencies, and local and global corporate bodies and put both national and international non-profit organisations under one umbrella to pioneer change.
While the c40 policy comes under the jurisdiction of the mayor of Mumbai, the Environment & Climate Change Department of the Government of Maharashtra is responsible for Majhi Vasundhra. This can lead to decentralization. Decentralization involves the transfer of authority and power from higher to lower levels of government or from national to subnational levels of government. Rather than a clear-cut separation of responsibilities, most responsibilities are shared among levels of government. The need to share responsibilities may arise for functional reasons – as is common between municipal and regional tiers around issues of transport and infrastructure, environment and water, culture and tourism, communication, or economic development.
Local institutions and people have a greater understanding of the area's environmental and socioeconomic concerns and are thus best positioned to improve and safeguard the environment if they are granted explicit rights over natural resources.
Higher levels of decision-making responsibility will be matched by increased incentives to use natural resources more efficiently.
Less encouraged groups and people are more likely to be involved in decision-making.
Because of the stronger homogeneity of common demands with smaller population sizes, and the higher transparency of the decision-making process, it enables local engagement.
Upscale in subnational governance through municipal cooperation, metropolitan governance and the strengthening of regions
Decentralization can make national policy coordination more difficult and allow local leaders to seize control of tasks.
If coordination isn't effective, it could lead to more disputes across different areas that share the same natural resources, as well as between hierarchical levels.
Local groups can lack the scientific understanding needed to supplement their indigenous experience and understanding.
The question is not whether decentralisation is good or harmful in and of itself, but rather under what conditions it can foster local democracy, effective public service delivery, and regional growth. When it is properly designed and implemented, there is evidence that decentralisation policies have a number of benefits, from improved subnational public service delivery and greater citizen engagement to reduced corruption and a positive impact on growth.
Though local and state governments have incorporated studies and scientific results into certain climate-change policies, their implementation is fraught with confusion, as it has been in India for nearly a century. As a C40 city, Mumbai will have the ability to actively consider future developments. Subnational governance will play a critical role in implementing measures on the ground that help cities decrease emissions and contain the threat of global warming in the global effort to decrease emissions and contain the threat of global warming. The City must take strong action on a big scale to confront the problems posed by climate change. C40 will help Mumbai make the case for bold climate action by focusing on the wider advantages to health, fairness, the economy, and security - in sectors like energy, transportation, buildings, urban planning, and adaptation. The implementation of numerous measures, such as a shift to cleaner fuels in direct thermal combustion, a push for electrification in all energy end-use sectors, as well as decarbonisation of power production, the deployment of steps to boost efficiency and minimise energetic losses, and the introduction of incentives or regulations to optimise activity levels of high emission activities, are all necessary for ambitious mitigation outcomes in Mumbai.
(Also Read: A Brief History: Navi Mumbai’s Wetlands)
Anand, N. (2019, December 13). Explained: How climate change could impact Mumbai by 2050. The Indian Express.
Charuchandra, S. (2020, October 24). To Weather Climate Change, Mumbai Must Embrace Its Wetness. The Wire Science.