Cities around the world have identified the economic benefits from tackling the effects of climate change, according to a new report released today by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).
The CDP study found 82% of cities are tapping into the potential for growth as a result of climate change adaptation and more than half of cities are looking to create green jobs and new business initiatives.
However, despite the substantial prospects for green growth, just under a third of the cities that participated in the global survey expect new sources of funding for tackling climate change.
The report, published today, presents a global snapshot of the activities, challenges and opportunities facing cities as a result of climate change.
It is based on the carbon and water strategies and actions disclosed to CDP by 73 cities spanning every inhabited continent. The report also contains a special focus on the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), a network of the world’s largest cities working to reduce urban carbon emissions and accelerate climate change adaptation.
Measurement for Management: CDP Cities 2012 Global Report shows that reporting cities cite a wide variety of financial drivers for climate change action, with nearly a third of cities expecting improved energy efficiency of their operations and a fifth recognising the increased energy security that action on climate change affords.
However, job creation and industry growth are by far the most prominently cited opportunities with 55% of cities anticipating the creation of green jobs and 53% predicting new business from clean tech industries or the development of new low-carbon economy technologies.
As the sustainability spotlight turns to the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), the compelling economic drivers for city action on climate change should be used to advance discussion on how to increase cities’ access to external sources of finance and accelerate emissions reductions in the world’s metropolitan hotspots.
Although the World Bank and other development banks have expressed interest in increasing access to funding for cities, less than 1% of city-wide emissions reduction activities reported by cities are financed by world development banks.
The study found that all of the reporting C40 cities and 81% of the total 73 disclosing cities are responding to the urgency of climate change by implementing a range of carbon emissions reductions activities, from education programs to waste management.
With 64% of these initiatives funded through general municipal funds, cities are largely financing their climate change actions without significant external support.
Conor Riffle, head of CDP’s cities programme, said: “Cities are major players in the fight against dangerous climate change. The 73 contained in our latest report account for nearly 1 billion tonnes of CO2e, roughly equivalent to the total emissions of Brazil and Canada combined.
“These cities are hubs of innovation and effective units for managing emissions reductions; increasing their access to climate finance could help achieve the gigaton-scale solutions required.”
Chair of C40, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg added: “This report provides definitive data showing that cities are taking action to address global climate change.
“Cities' ability to act - especially in the absence of strong international agreements - presents a compelling argument for improving local access to funding from national governments and international bodies. The actions that cities are taking locally are the best hope we have for fighting climate change globally.”
Eduardo Paes, mayor of Rio de Janeiro, a C40 City, says: "It is with great pleasure that we welcome the second global cities report from CDP ahead of Rio+20. This information is testament to the decisive actions being taken at a municipal level and demonstrates how the collective power of cities could be used to guide policy-making on a global scale."
The special focus on C40 Cities within the report supports the theory of the “network effect”, with the C40 subset demonstrating an advanced and improving approach to climate change management. C40 Cities led the way in emissions assessment and reporting, helping to launch CDP’s cities program last year with the publication of its inaugural report.
The number of C40 Cities responding has increased this year, as has the percentage of cities reporting city-wide emissions inventories (as opposed to local government operations emissions only), which has jumped from 67% to 78%.
This year also showed a rise in C40 Cities setting emissions reduction targets from 62% in 2011 to 71%. Cities reporting emissions reductions targets for the first time include Bogotá and Changwon.
84% of the C40 Cities expect economic benefits as a result of their climate change action.
The C40 City of Los Angeles, for example, has a special focus on promoting clean technology. It has established a reclaimed rail yard for clean tech start ups and expansions. The city has also implemented a number of green schemes such as waste-to-energy and digester gas utilisation projects.
London, another C40 City, expects that to deliver its 60% carbon reduction target will result in the creation of 200,000 green jobs by 2025 from opportunities such as those arising from its energy retrofitting, waste and decentralising energy aspirations.
Yokohama has big plans for new industries; the C40 City is creating new supply chains around the concept of cooperation on green initiatives in the city, bringing together energy-saving design and planning, electrical vehicles and photovoltaic power generation and at the same time supporting local manufacturers of the environmental technologies and products.