LGMA COP28 intervention at first annual High-level Ministerial round table

Ravi Bhalla, Mayor of Hoboken, United States

Sunday 3 December 2023 | 15:30

Thank you to the facilitators, and to the UNFCCC for hosting this important Dialogue.

My name is Ravi Bhalla, and I serve as Mayor of the City of Hoboken, New Jersey in the United States. I am proud to speak on behalf of all mayors, cities, and regions as part of the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities constituency.

Hoboken is a city of only 1 square mile, but is one of the most densely populated in the U.S. We sit just across the Hudson River from New York City. Within this context, as a Global North community — within a country with a rich, diversified economy — it might be tempting to think that issues of Just Transition are less severe for my city and those across the U.S.

But make no mistake: From the coal-mining communities of Appalachia, to the oil-refining Gulf Coast, and even backyard oil rigs in Southern California, the United States economy is still enormously tied to the fossil fuel economy. 

The challenge for the Global North is as real as anywhere. However, when you put people at the center of the Just Transition, you realize the story can be one of Opportunity — and I believe that cities and regions are best positioned foster opportunity in 4 key ways.

First, by bringing the public together around the transition. Cities are where people live and work, and city governments can concentrate the economic benefits afforded by a green transition and lay the social groundwork for a resilient net-zero economy.

Second, by accelerating many more green jobs through guaranteed living wages, workplace safety protections, and health benefits that lift people, their families, and their communities up.

Third, by following clear, actionable transition roadmaps built for people. More than 1,000 cities are committed to creating transparent, community-driven climate action plans that empower residents to create their vision for what justice means paired with measurable targets.

Fourth, by centering local solutions. In my city of Hoboken, we are adapting to the impacts of climate change, which disproportionately affect our most vulnerable residents, by investing in resilient infrastructure such as Rebuild by Design and Parks as Defense against flooding.

Although local governments are champions of these 4 opportunity enablers, we are best able to fulfil them in collaboration with all levels of government. The LGMA welcomes the COP28 Presidency’s CHAMP initiative, and congratulates its 60+ endorsing nations who are committed to multilevel action. With local governments and regions working closely with their national governments, we can ensure the Just Transition is a smooth one, with opportunity shared by all.