Cities house more than half of the world’s population and are responsible for over 70% of the world’s energy-related carbon emissions, so they could make or break efforts to tackle climate change. A new study has ranked the action of 596 cities’ action to cut emissions and set climate strategies and awarded a top score to 43 cities.
The ranking, known as the ‘A List’ for cities, has been compiled by the environmental consultants CDP* which scored major cities across the world on across the areas of sustainability disclosure, awareness, management and leadership. These factors were measured across CDP’s existing “essential criteria” – namely governance; hazards and adaptation; strategy and water; citywide emissions and local government emissions.
Top of the global list for urban climate action are: Barcelona, London, Paris, Cape Town and Hong Kong which received CDP’s top ‘A’ score.
14 cities aim to be climate or carbon neutral by 2050 – including The Hague, Boston and Sydney. Five cities have city-wide 100% renewable energy targets – including Paris, San Francisco and Canberra – and one city (Reykjavík) has reached 100% already.
To receive an “A” grade from CDP, cities were required to demonstrate strong climate adaptation and mitigation strategies and to consistently track emissions. The body factored in the size of the cities, their carbon footprints and their respective susceptibilities to extreme weather events when compiling the rankings.
While praising those cities which received an “A” grade, CDP has expressed concerns that only a small proportion of cities worldwide are doing enough to manage, measure and tackle greenhouse gas emissions, or to adapt to climate-related risks including water security. “Just 7% of cities who reported to CDP in 2018 received an A. We urge cities worldwide to step up their action, set targets in line with what the latest science says is needed to prevent dangerous climate change, and transparently share their progress,” said CDP’s Kyra Appleby.
Four cities on CDP’s cities A List (Canberra, Paris, Minneapolis and San Francisco) have a target to have all energy used in the city coming from renewable sources. Reykjavík has already achieved this target. By and large cities are at different stages when it comes to decarbonizing their energy grids. Paris, Minneapolis, and San Francisco source 35%, 24% and 59% of their energy respectively from renewable sources.
Actions being taken by A List cities include:
London: introduced an ultra-low emissions zone on April 8, 2019, this sees drivers with older, more polluting cars paying more to drive in central London in a bid to clean up the city’s air. ·
Calgary: is building a new light rail system aptly named the Green Line, The first stage will be completed in 2026 and is expected cut 30,000 tonnes of CO2e from the city’s traffic emissions every year, the equivalent of taking more than 23,000 cars off the road each year. ·
The Hague: in its seaside resort of Scheveningen, the city has built a new waterfront boulevard. Invisible to the average citizen, a kilometre-long dike can be found beneath the boulevard, offering another layer of protection from coastal flooding. ·
Taipei: tackling drought is a top priority for the city which has fixed 2,200 water leaks saving 613,300 tonnes of water per year since 2015.
Every year, hundreds of cities report their climate data through CDP’s environmental disclosure platform and gain data-driven insights into gaps and opportunities for climate policy-development, resource and risk management and signal projects in need of investment. In doing so they demonstrate ambition, transparency and good governance. This is the first time CDP has released a list of cities awarded an A in a bid to drive up ambition in the face of the growing urgency of the climate challenge.
*CDP is a not-for-profit charity that runs the global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states and regions to manage their environmental impacts.