Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Urban economies need to be rebuilt to prioritize green investments in order to create a more resilient, just society that can withstand global shocks, argue the mayors of many of the world's biggest cities in a report out Wednesday.

Why it matters: "A return to 'business as usual' would not just be a monumental failure of imagination, but lock in the inequities laid bare by the pandemic and the inevitability of more devastating crises due to the climate breakdown," the group of mayors concludes.

Background: The report represents the recommendations of a COVID-19 recovery task force launched in April by C40 Cities, a network of mayors committed to meeting at a local level the goals of the Paris Agreement — to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and be carbon-neutral by 2050.

Recommendations include:

  • Investing in green jobs and clean energy, and providing job training for people to move from high-pollution industries to sustainable ones.
  • Improving equitable public services, such as efficient and safe mass transit, while reclaiming roads for non-car infrastructure.
  • Creating "15-minute cities" where residents can meet most of their needs within a short walk or bike ride from home.
  • Emphasizing green building by investing in parks, green roofs, permeable pavements and other infrastructure to reduce the risks of extreme heat, drought and flooding.

The big picture: The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the link between public health, the environment and the economy.

  • For example, exposure to poor air quality has predisposed some — particularly those in low-income neighborhoods with higher pollution levels — to more severe COVID-19 outcomes.
  • Widespread fears about public transit has helped drive up the use of personal vehicles in cities that have reopened, damaging efforts to reduce reliance on emission-emitting cars.
  • The economic fallout from the outbreak could lead to an estimated 100 million city dwellers falling into poverty.

Where it stands: A number of C40 mayors are already overseeing efforts in line with some of the recommendations.

  • Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante has planned 203 miles of bike paths allowing citizens to reach the city's parks, and she aims to plant enough trees in vulnerable zones to have tree canopy cover 25% of the city.
  • Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has adopted the '"15-minute city" idea with plans to add offices and co-working hubs and encourage remote work, use nightclubs as gyms during the day, and have schools serve as parks and play spaces over the weekend.
  • Lisbon Mayor Fernando Medina is enhancing public transit safety with new cleaning protocols and route adjustments during rush hours and reducing ridership to two-thirds capacity. Lisbon added new bus lanes and is buying more trams and electric buses than previously planned.
  • Seoul is improving municipal buildings' energy efficiency and introducing greenhouse gas emissions caps. The measures are expected to create 20,000 green jobs by 2022.

"We need good ideas to spread quickly, particularly at this moment," said David Miller, C40 director of international diplomacy.

Yes, but: There's only so much cities can do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which don't recognize country boundaries, let alone city limits. Ultimately, it will take at least state or regional action, and eventually federal leadership to mandate emissions cuts, to make a big difference at the local level, notes Axios energy reporter Amy Harder.

The bottom line: City leaders can spearhead change, but it takes the collaboration of banks, regulators, corporations and residents to make significant changes to zoning, lending and building practices that perpetuate today's inequities.

Go deeper

A big hiring pledge from New York CEOs

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Leaders of more than two dozen of the New York City area's largest employers — including JPMorgan Chase, Ernst & Young, IBM, McKinsey & Company and Accenture — aim to hire 100,000 low-income residents and people of color by 2030 and will help prep them for tech jobs.

Why it matters: As the city's economy has boomed, many New Yorkers have been left behind — particularly during the pandemic. The hiring initiative marks an unusual pact among firms, some of them competitors, to address systemic unemployment.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 20,755,406 — Total deaths: 752,225— Total recoveries: 12,917,934Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 5,246,760 — Total deaths: 167,052 — Total recoveries: 1,774,648 — Total tests: 64,831,306Map.
  3. Politics: House Democrats to investigate scientist leading "Operation Warp Speed" vaccine projectMcConnell announces Senate will not hold votes until Sept. 8 unless stimulus deal is reached.
  4. 2020: Biden calls for 3-month national mask mandateBiden and Harris to receive coronavirus briefings 4 times a week.
  5. States: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to drop lawsuit over Atlanta's mask mandate.
  6. Business: Why the CARES Act makes 2020 the best year for companies to lose money.
  7. Public health: Fauci's guidance on pre-vaccine coronavirus treatments Cases are falling, but don't get too comfortable.

Trump says he intends to give RNC speech on White House lawn

President Trump speaking to reporters on South Lawn in July. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump told the New York Post on Thursday that he plans to deliver his Republican National Convention speech from the White House lawn, despite bipartisan criticism of the optics and legality of the location.

Why it matters: Previous presidents avoided blurring staged campaign-style events — like party conventions — with official business of governing on the White House premises, per Politico.