Most of World's cities are now taking action on climate change

by ClickGreen staff. Published Wed 01 Jun 2011 22:23
London aims to have 100,000 electric vehicles by 2020
London aims to have 100,000 electric vehicles by 2020

The majority of major cities around the globe have taken action to counter climate change, with 93% of cities stating that climate change responsibility sits at the governor, mayor or city chancellor level.

That’s according to the first global cities report from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) written by KPMG, detailing how the world’s largest city governments - 58 core and affiliate cities of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) who represent 8% of the world’s population - are tackling climate change.

Over two thirds of these cities (72%) measured and reported to CDP on local government and community wide greenhouse gas emissions and the risks and opportunities from climate change.

The report was released today in conjunction with the C40 Cities Mayors Summit in São Paulo, Brazil, where over 70 of the world’s largest cities are convening.

“Cities are on the frontlines in addressing global climate changes,” said New York City Mayor and C40 Chair, Michael R. Bloomberg. “This ground-breaking study provides critical data that will enable cities to make powerful decisions and track progress as they continue to address the impact climate change is having on their environment, their economy and their citizens.”

With 62% of reporting cities establishing climate change action plans and 57% adopting greenhouse gas reduction targets, mayors are embracing and implementing initiatives that bolster green industries and create new jobs, improve quality of life for citizens and reduce the physical risks from climate change.

Transport, buildings, energy savings, renewable energy sources, green spaces and waste were the most frequently mentioned areas of focus incorporated into cities’ master plans.

• Seoul plans to retrofit 10,000 buildings by 2030.

• Austin has a zero waste plan for 2040.

• London aims to have 100,000 electric vehicles on the streets by 2020.

• Buenos Aires is implementing a network of dedicated bus and taxi lanes to improve fuel efficiency.

• Tokyo is introducing higher energy efficiency standards for large urban developments.

• São Paulo’s goal is to reduce the use of fossil fuel on public transportation by 10% each year, aiming at 100% use of renewable by 2017.

At the same time, an emerging number of cities (26%) are beginning to see the benefits from incentivizing individual or departmental management of climate change issues by providing monetary reward, recognition or prizes. Rio de Janeiro for example has a financial programme of rewarding public workers for achieving their greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

Almost all cities (93%) recognize significant physical risk from climate change and 79% of cities believe that the physical impacts of climate change could directly or indirectly threaten the ability of local businesses to operate successfully.

Cities are feeling the immediate impact of climate change, with 43% identifying that they are already dealing with the effects of climate change in their areas. Current effects identified include temperature changes resulting in more hot days, increased frequency of heat waves, more intense rainfall, increased severity of storms and floods and rising sea levels.

This has serious implications for buildings, infrastructure, water supply, energy supply and human health.

• When Jakarta was hit by floods in 2007 it experienced a total financial loss of US$879 million and over 200,000 refugees.

• In Rio de Janeiro, intense rainfall in 2010 damaged infrastructure, affected waste management, transportation and communications as well as creating a spread of disease in flooded areas.

• New Orleans is still dealing with the impacts of Hurricane Katrina. It will also lose significant parts of the city from sea level rises should climate change continue on its current path.

Other key findings from the first CDP Cities report include:

• C40 Cities report total city-wide greenhouse gas emissions of 1.2 billion metric tons CO2e—which equates to the total emissions of Japan

• Large city governments are keeping pace with major corporations (the Global 500) on greenhouse gas measurement and disclosure, with two of every three responding cities reporting GHG emissions data.

• Greater financial planning is needed to safeguard the future of cities. Only six cities reported that they have calculated the financial investment required to meet community emission reductions. This is vital to ensure robust target setting and achievable reductions.

• 69% of cities are incorporating climate change and its effects into urban planning and development.

• Cities are less aware of opportunities than risks, with just over half of cities stating that they expect some positive effects from climate change.

• Cities would benefit from a standardization of methodologies to calculate city emissions as current multiple methodologies make comparisons challenging.

With CDP Cities, the Carbon Disclosure Project adapts its well established reporting system that has been used for ten years by corporations around the world to provide a global platform for city governments to report their greenhouse gas emissions and other sustainability-related information.

The launch of CDP Cities first global report took place at the C40 Cities Mayors Summit in São Paulo, Brazil today.

Welcoming the launch of the first report, Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “Cities are firmly at the vanguard of the global charge to deliver large scale carbon reductions and energy efficiencies. In seeking to set the pace and work together, cities have immense clout to stimulate low carbon world markets to unleash economic opportunities for their citizens.

“London is already pushing these boundaries through programmes to dramatically reduce emissions from homes, workplaces and transport to provide an improved quality of life. Effective measurement of success and transparency is a vital element of this delivery.”

Paul Dickinson, executive chairman of the Carbon Disclosure Project, said: “Ten years of providing a system for the reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change data to the world’s largest companies has shown us that measurement leads to management.

"There are considerable opportunities for cities to advance their energy and sustainability programmes, not just to reduce environmental risk but to bolster economic growth. Insight and transparency from the measurement and reporting process is a crucial step in the journey to achieving a greener economy.”

Rohit T. Aggarwala, Special Advisor to the Chair, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, said:
“The best scientific data tells us that it is long past time to address this challenge, and the best demographic data tells us that cities must lead the way. CDP’s global report shows that cities are already doing a great deal to address climate change, and also identifies those areas where cities can do more. It also demonstrates that C40 has an important role to play in moving towards standardized approaches to reporting emissions and assessing climate risk.”

Mayor Gilberto Kassab of São Paulo, added: “The partnership of the C40 with the CDP will provide the City of São Paulo direct access to valuable information from other cities in the network and help Sao Paulo continue to improve its environmental policies.”

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