World's Cities Announce Concrete Action at Climate Summit

Two concrete announcements have come out of this week’s Climate Summit in Peru so far.

First came World Resources Institute’s (WRI) Initiative 20×20 – a commitment to restore 50 million acres of degraded farmland in Latin America by 2020, to keep agriculture from expanding into forested land.  

The other comes from the world’s cities, which announced the launch of the first common standard to measure and report on their emissions. 

The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) and WRI announced the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories.  It will help cities develop an emissions baseline, set mitigation goals, create specific action plans and track and report progress over time. 

"If we want to turn the tide against climate change, cities will need to lead the way. Compact and efficient cities can dramatically reduce emissions and will drive innovation and sustained economic growth," says Andrew Steer, CEO of WRI. "Until recently there has been no consistent way to measure city-level emissions. Now, that has changed. We now have a common international standard to inform strategies to cut emissions and create better, more livable cities."

Responsible for more than 70% of energy-related carbon emissions, cities represent the single greatest opportunity for tackling climate change. Many have been working on it for years under C40.

"We’re not arguing with each other about emissions targets, we’re going out and making progress," Mike Bloomberg said when he was NYC Mayor. His foundation donated $20 million to the effort. 

Over 100 cities are using beta versions of the tool, representing over 170 million people and 1.1 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions. 500 cities are expected to join the effort – Compact for Mayors – during 2015, which requires cities to measure and report greenhouse gas emissions using the protocol.

Climate Change Cities Protocol

  • Guangzhou, China is analyzing its emissions trends and designing a roadmap towards peaking them. WRI China is providing training and technical advice. 
  • Johannesburg, South Africa conducted its first emissions inventory and estimates it puts out 26.5 million tons of carbon emissions, 71% coming from electricity use. The city is creating a detailed action plan based on the data.
  • Rajkot, India and seven other Indian cities – home to almost 11 million people – completed their emission inventories, and Rajkot now plans to cut carbon emissions 14% by 2016.
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – based on emissions inventories for 2005 and 2012, it is implementing low-carbon transport, waste management, forestry, and energy efficiency projects. 
  • Wellington City, New Zealand developed an emissions inventory for the region, which includes eight cities, as part of its new action plan – cutting emissions 30% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.

WRI, C40, and ICLEI will hold workshops in cities around the world to train city staff on how to use the protocol and achieve their climate goals.  

Read our article, At Rio+20, Cities & Stock Exchanges Take On Climate Change.

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