The single most important climate action that cities can take – C40 Cities
Mark Watts, Executive Director of C40 Cities
I am regularly asked “what is the single most important thing that mayors can do to tackle climate change?” It is a difficult question to answer, but if we broaden the question to include reducing inequality and poverty, then few interventions can match the transformative power of prioritising the needs of pedestrians and cyclists over space for cars.
In fact, any city where a private vehicle is necessary to get around is likely to be fundamentally unequal. Data from cities across the world show that men are more likely to drive cars, while women are more likely to rely on public transport and non-motorised modes like walking and cycling. Research carried out in the UK and US found rates of car ownership that were significantly higher among white people compared to other ethnic groups. We also know that, while wealthier households are more likely to own cars, they are less likely to be living in areas with the highest levels of traffic and traffic-related pollution. Another study found that car users took up 3.5 times more public space than non-car users. A city that is designed around the car is not an equitable one.