Most cities see climate action as an economic opportunity

New York city has pledged to cut its emissions by 80% by 2050, compared to 2005 levels. [Kolitha de Silva/Flickr]

190 cities around the world have already taken action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, according to the annual Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), published on Tuesday (4 October). EURACTIV’s partner Journal de l’Environnement reports.

This report, based on the volontary declarations of 533 municipalities in 2016, shows that North America (74) and Europe (72) are home to the vast majority of these pro-active cities. But Asia (29), Latin America (six) and Africa (three) are all making efforts.

Between them, these municipalities identified 2,000 concrete effects that climate change was having on their territory, including flooding, extreme temperatures and water shortages.

Among the pioneers of climate action, Stockholm has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 3.2 tonnes of CO2 per inhabitant by 2020, and to be completely free of fossil fuels by 2040.

Across the Atlantic, New York has also committed to cutting its emissions by 80% by 2050, compared to 2005 levels. To achieve this, the city aims to make a 30% reduction in emissions from its buildings by 2025 thanks to energy efficiency renovation.

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Private sector partnerships

Cities will have to spend €51,000 billion on climate mitigation measures by 2030 if the global temperature rise is to be kept below 2°C above pre-industrial times, the environmental reporting association said, citing information from the WWF.

Raising such sums will require extensive partnerships between businesses and public investors, a tool already used by nearly two thirds of cities with emissions reduction targets. Today, 720 projects involving the private sector are under way, worth a total of €23.2bn.

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Economic opportunity

While this is certainly a huge challenge for cities, 299 of the municipal authorities involved in the study view their climate commitments as an economic opportunity, rather than a brake on their development.

Accounting for three quarters of global greengouse gas emissions, cities are the key to inverting the warming curve, even if certain sectors, like private transport, are beyond their direct influence. Whether or not they succeed will depend on their energy choices and the behavioural changes made by their inhabitants, particularly in terms of transport.

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Ahead of COP21, EU cities and regions are seeking a bigger role and an expanded toolbox to implement any climate agreement reached in Paris.


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