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Carbon Disclosure Project – 2012 Global Report

Cities with targets report three times the GHG reductions of cities with no targets

Not-for-profit organisation the Carbon Disclosure Project recently released its second annual Global Report, partnered with AECOM and in association with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. CDP works with businesses and cities worldwide towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sustainable water use.

CDP executive chairman Paul Dickinson, believes that transparency of emissions data and showcasing of best practice are vital to combatting climate change. Indeed, the business mantra ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’ as quoted by Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City and Chair of C40 Cities, clearly describes the ultimate purpose of the report, which includes a special breakdown of C40 figures.

The report itself is interspersed with infographics that help collate and understand the information offered by participants and is supported by an infographic website which offers an interactive way to consume the data.

CDP Global Report: Greenhouse gas emissions per year in millions of tonnes

CDP infographic: Greenhouse gas emissions per year in millions of tonnes

A wider ambition of CDP is to work towards standardising the way in which companies and cities deal with emissions reporting. Current participants employ a range of techniques that include the IPCC’s methodology and Global Protocol for Community-scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

In terms of participants, the C40 cities led the way in the inaugural report but are followed this year by many others. This makes for a diverse range of reporting communities ranging from Tokyo (13 million population) to the tiny village of Kadiovacik in Turkey made up of only 216 people. The report summarises data from 73 cities and local governments who responded to an invitation to disclose their climate change-related activities.

The report’s key findings at first seem obvious. For example larger, denser cities show smaller emissions per capita, but what this actually represents is that these cities have better access to public transport and hence have a reduced need for cars.

Participating city Buenos Aires admits 'an enormous task lies before us.'

Participating city Buenos Aires admits ‘an enormous task lies before us.’

In terms of emissions management and adaptation for climate change, the report makes it clear that established targets are of paramount importance to catalyse changing behaviour – cities with reduction targets report three times the greenhouse gas emission reduction than those without.

Alongside this, the report suggests many cities are keen to develop their local ‘green economy’, especially in North America. Case studies of this include Portland’s Clean Energy Works Oregon program and Vancouver’s ‘Greenest City Action Plan (GCAP)’.

Reporting on risk assessment widens the scope of CDP from emissions to issues arising from climate change, including water management. Flooding, droughts and heatwaves or temperature increases are amongst the risks reported to affect cities today, the latter being claimed by 57 participants – the most of any risks.

CDP: Risks reported by participating cities, arranged by continent

CDP infographic: Risks reported by participating cities, arranged by continent

The intentions of the majority of participating cities demonstrate huge pressure on the construction industry – energy demand in buildings and transport initiatives are by far the most targeted sectors for emissions reduction within the C40 group.

It is obvious that the CDP Global Report still has a way to go for increasing its reach. Europe and the Americas exhibit the highest response rate, arguably the next important step is to involve more of east and south-east Asia  – large C40 members such as Beijing and Delhi are yet to disclose emissions, meaning significant amounts unaccounted for by the report.

Greater London says 'Delivering the [Mayor’s Climate Change] Strategy could deliver 200k new jobs.'

Greater London says ‘Delivering the [Mayor’s Climate Change] Strategy could deliver 200k new jobs.’

Encouragingly, innovation is at the top of many cities’ disclosures and the UK has not shied away  – Greater Manchester been picked out as one of ‘Four innovations to watch in 2012’ for its commitment to low-carbon consumption.

Above all, the transparency of information from participating cities shows a positive attitude toward action against climate change at city and local government level. However, Rio+20 makes it clear that global management of emissions and climate change needs serious and drastic action to achieve its vital targets.

CDP Global Report Facts

Number of participating cities: 73

Population represented by participating cities:  244, 476, 700

Fraction of C40 countries responding:  75 percent

No. of cities reporting temperature increase risk:  57

Total greenhouse gas emissions reported:   977,659,014 tonnes

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