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June 28, 2013
Major Cities Adapting to Climate Change
    by Robert Kropp

A report by the Carbon Disclosure Project and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group reveals that many of the world’s largest cities have launched energy efficiency and other initiatives to lessen the effects of climate change.


The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) is justly hailed as an investor-backed initiative that has persuaded thousands of the world's corporations to report to it on their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and emissions reduction strategies. But in recent years CDP has expanded its outreach to include other major players in the climate mitigation agenda, including cities.

The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group currently includes as members 58 of the world's largest cities, 14 of which are located in North America, “taking action to address climate change by developing and implementing policies and programs that generate measurable reductions in both greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks,” according to the organization's website.

CDP and C40 have collaborated on a recently published report entitled Wealthier, healthier cities for which representatives from 110 cities were surveyed on efforts to adapt to climate change and resource scarcity. The results of the survey suggest that major cities are not waiting for action by national governments before undertaking effective initiatives themselves.

How important is it that cities undertake such initiatives? According to respondents, very much so: “98% of reporting cities believe that their cities face physical risks from climate change, the highest percentage of cities in the three year history of the CDP questionnaire,” the report states. “Cities classify nearly half (48%) of these risks as both near-term and serious / extremely serious.”

Energy efficiency is often described as “the lowest of the lowest hanging fruit” in efforts to reduce the effects of climate change, and many of the responding cities report that energy efficiency is already reaping significant benefits. “One out of every two actions that cities are taking to reduce emissions in their municipal operations is focused on efficiency,” the report states. “Cities report over $40 million in savings per year from tackling climate change.”

According to the report, efficiency measures most frequently employed by cities include reducing energy use in buildings, improving fuel efficiency in municipal vehicles, and lowering the energy consumption and maintenance costs of outdoor lighting.

Energy efficiency and other climate related efforts are also likely to attract business to the cities that enact such measures. “We considered an activity to be helpful in making a city more attractive to business if academic research suggests that it can have an impact on economic growth in a city,” the report states. “Our analysis shows that 62% of all reported emissions reduction activities being undertaken by cities have the potential to make cities more attractive to businesses.”

Additionally, climate adaptation efforts have the benefit of improving the health of the citizens of cities. By improving infrastructure and reducing air pollution, “ actions to adapt to climate change...will also protect life and health,” according to the report. And mitigation efforts to reduce emissions can lead directly to improved citizen health. “More than half of reporting cities (55%) are undertaking emissions reduction actions that directly or indirectly promote walking and cycling,” the report states.

“Climate change action by city governments can yield strong and clear advantages for their citizens and businesses beyond simply being good for the planet,” the report concludes.

“Mayors are dealing head-on with the need to safeguard their populations, infrastructure and economies from the increasingly severe impacts of climate change,” Rohit Aggarwala, Special Advisor to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said. “By reporting on their progress C40 Cities are holding themselves and each other accountable for meeting the targets they set, and continuing to demonstrate unprecedented, global leadership in taking real, measurable actions.”

 

 
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