Sao Paulo recently became one of the first cities in the developing world to implement a citywide plan to fight climate change.
The city council unanimously approved law 14.933, which ambitiously aims to reduce Sao Paulo’s citywide greenhouse gas emissions by 30% of 2005 levels by 2012 through several measures comprehensively focused on transportation, renewable energy, energy efficiency, waste management, construction and land use.
The municipal government is currently defining further measures that will specify the details of the follow strategies laid out by the law:
The Sao Paulo municipal bill moves past mitigation, and on to adaptation to climate change, as it institutes public health, education and defense measures:
The bill requires Sao Paulo to complete a citywide GHG emissions inventory every five years—the first one having been reported in 2005—to track emissions reductions from the measures above. The municipal government will also create incentives for private sector companies to report GHG inventories.
WRI’s GHG Protocol program has been working in Brazil to promote emissions management by building technical and institutional capacity for GHG accounting and reporting within Brazilian businesses. This work, along with the database of emissions factors and GHG calculation tool developed by the program specifically for Brazil, will certainly assist companies and the city to accurately report emissions.
Finally, the bill directs financial resources towards its enactment through a variety of means: by allocating Special Environment and Sustainable Development Fund finances; by vesting authorities with the ability to establish incentives and fees; and by establishing a mechanism that provides payment for environmental services to property owners who recover, maintain and preserve parts of a planned Private Natural Heritage Reserve in Sao Paulo.
The Center for Sustainability Studies at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, one of WRI’s major Brazilian partners, played a key role in drafting the legislation. The next step in the policy’s implementation is the creation of a Municipal Climate Change Committee in Sao Paulo, made up of members of municipal and state government, civil society and academic institutions. The committee will begin an integrated rulemaking process, which will provide opportunities for public comment and participation.
Several challenges remain. It may be difficult to gain support from some of the numerous sectors that the law will affect, and it is yet to be decided how much of the citywide 30% emissions reductions each sector will have to account for. Political will is also necessary, as Sao Paulo’s politicians now need to make tough decisions regarding the allocation of resources and funding towards the law´s implementation. Finally, passing such a law may prove easy compared to actually implementing and enforcing it. Only time will tell how Sao Paulo will deal with such challenges, but by simply passing such a law it has taken a significant step in managing its emissions.
As the first city in rapidly-developing Brazil to pass such legislation, Sao Paulo has become a pioneer in urban climate change action. Additionally, because the city is the fourth largest in the world, such action will not only produce vast emissions reductions, but important lessons for other metropolitan areas, allowing Sao Paulo to serve as a model for other cities worldwide, in developing and developed countries alike.