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World’s megacities act on climate change

The first global cities report from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) is being released today, with 42 of the world’s major cities that emit 1.2 billion metric tonnes CO2 emissions between them, including Berlin, Johannesburg, London, New York, São Paulo, Sydney and Tokyo, having reported on their climate change actions.

The CDP report’s release is happening in conjunction with the C40 Cities Mayors Summit in São Paulo, Brazil, where over 70 of the world’s largest cities are convening.

The report details how the world’s largest city governments – 58 core and affiliate cities of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) who represent 8pc of the world’s population – are tackling climate change.

The CDP says major cities are showing strong leadership in implementing climate change strategies, with 93pc of cities stating that climate change responsibility sits at the governor, mayor or city chancellor level.

Climate change plans and actions

Of the cities that reported to the CDP, 62pc of them are setting up climate change action plans and 57pc are adopting greenhouse gas reduction targets,

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

Taking some city examples, Seoul plans to retrofit 10,000 buildings by 2030, while Austin has a zero waste plan for 2040. Meanwhile, London is aiming to have 100,000 electric vehicles on its streets by 2020 and São Paulo is aiming to reduce the use of fossil fuel on public transportation by 10pc each year, aiming at 100pc use of renewable by 2017.

The report’s other main findings reveal that:

  • Greater financial planning is needed to safeguard the future of cities, as only six cities reported that they have calculated the financial investment required to meet community emission reductions.
  • 69pc 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. 

Climate change risks

Cities are also feeling the immediate impact of climate change, with 43pc reporting to the CDP that they are already dealing with issues such as temperature changes resulting in more hot days, increased frequency of heatwaves, more intense rainfall, increased severity of storms and floods and rising sea levels. 

The CDP says this has serious implications for buildings, infrastructure, water supply, energy supply and human health.  In Rio de Janeiro, for example, intense rainfall in 2010 damaged infrastructure, affected waste management, transportation and communications as well as creating a spread of disease in flooded areas.

Enabling cities to make strategic decisions

Welcoming the launch of the CDP report, New York City Mayor and C40 Chair, Michael Bloomberg said that cities are on the frontlines in addressing global climate changes.

“This groundbreaking 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.” 

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, added: “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 programs 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.”

Dublin - voluntary response to the CDP Cities report

CDP also received voluntary responses from Dublin, Burlington Edina, Kaohsiung, Las Vegas and Taipei.

Speaking at the Green Economy conference in Dublin yesterday, Dick Budden, director of the CDP in Ireland, said that he was supportive of the decision by Dublin City Council to take part in the CDP Cities initiative, with cities having to prepare for the inevitable comparisons that will either enhance or threaten the investment in regions and cities in the future.