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Cities were once classed as the villains of the climate change debate, perhaps due to outdated images of chimneys belching out smoke and long traffic jams. Thanks to local innovation and dynamic city leadership across the globe they are now regarded as the heroes.

At COP 26 national governments will pledge, but it is cities that will end up delivering. Half the world's population now inhabit cities and two thirds of the planet's climate emissions come from urban areas.

I'm proud that Core Cities UK will have such a visible presence at COP. On 3rd of November - Finance Day - we will bring leaders and mayors together with Mathias Cormann, Secretary General of OECD in the Blue Zone to talk through the latest findings of the UK Cities Climate Investment Commission (UKCCIC), our partnership with London Councils and Connected Places Catapult. And on the 11th I will join local and national leaders in Glasgow City Chambers to talk about the next steps for climate investment.

The UKCCIC report estimates that the cost of getting London and the Core Cities to Net Zero could run to over £200bn, a figure far beyond either central or local government. That is why we need to attract private sector investment into our cities to help build the district heating networks, electric vehicle charging stations and carbon neutral public transport that our cities need.

UK cities are already living with the effects of climate change. Temperatures of just 28 degrees - now common in the UK in our globally warmed summers - can buckle light rail systems and many of our cities have experienced one in a generation flooding events over the last decade.

Many of the Core Cities declared climate emergencies to deal with this immediate threat. In my own city of Newcastle we then used civic leadership as a tool to bring local institutions together to discuss ways of mitigating and reversing the effects of global warming.

This has been a success, but the bigger task still lies ahead. There are people in many wards in the Core Cities who struggle just to put food on the table. They have neither the time nor resource to worry about climate change, but their lives will be altered significantly over the coming years as cities shift to Net Zero. The transport they take, the homes they live in, the jobs they do. All of these will be changed radically if we are to reach our 2050 target.

Take the man or woman with a second-hand diesel delivery van, probably earning just enough to get by. How do we persuade them to switch to electric, particularly when we do not have enough charging stations within our cities? How do we make sure they feel involved and part of the journey not 'done to'.

Disputes about Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, in both my city and other Core Cities gave us a taste of how a vocal segment of a population can react when it perceives that new rules have been imposed without significant consultation.

The race to reach Net Zero cannot be centrally mandated. It must come from trusted, effective local leadership. Central planning will not provide the solutions, we have seen that already through Whitehall's failed attempts to insulate via the Green Homes Grant scrapped earlier this year after only reaching 10pc of the 600,000 homes that were supposed to benefit from cut price insulation.

Only the local state is capable of listening, resourcing and mobilising effectively. It's time for action and I look forward to making UK cities' voices heard at this crucial global gathering.

Cllr Nick Forbes is chair of Core Cities UK and leader of Newcastle City Council