Mexico City launched its first Bus Rapid Transit Corridor along Avenida Insurgentes, one of the longest avenues in the world. Eighty low-pollution buses will carry 250,000 passengers per day, replacing 350 dirty and dangerous buses. The Corridor is the centerpiece of an ambitious plan by Mexico City and WRI’s EMBARQ Center for Sustainable Transportation to implement a clean transportation system in one of the world’s most polluted cities. The new bus system reduces CO2 emissions by 35,000 tons annually. New partnerships with Istanbul and Porto Alegre are also under way.
The Amazon is a precious natural resource subject to significant human pressures. Identifying these pressures and understanding how they are related is critical for successful forest management. Traditional forest assessments look at only one or two pressures at a time, such as logging and agriculture. That isn’t enough. WRI and its Brazilian partner Imazon have created a new set of forest maps that include the impacts of civic construction projects, human settlements, fires, and mining operations on the Amazon, thereby providing a more complete picture. We believe these “human pressure” maps will guide better policy decisions. Already, Brazil has used these maps and analysis to establish federally protected areas and state forests, setting aside 9.5 million hectares of important intact rainforest.
Brazil currently ranks fifth in the world in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The country’s energy mix, long dominated by hydro power, is trending towards fossil fuels, and the Brazilian general public is increasingly concerned with climate change.
Although not bound by Kyoto Protocol GHG emissions limits, Brazil is committed to fighting global warming. In partnership with WRI and other organizations, the Brazilian government launched the Brazil GHG ProtocolProgram, a voluntary public registry of corporate greenhouse gas emissions. Participants will log annual inventories of emissions and will receive training on accounting practices and management reduction strategies. Sixteen major corporations joined the effort, the first program of its kind in South America.
Standardizing how greenhouse gases are measured and reported lays the foundation for future mitigation efforts. Our goal is to expand the program and bring GHG accounting tools and training to the agricultural, biofuel, and forestry sector, which are major sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Brazil.
When Brazil secured its position as future host to both the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games, a new opportunity to upgrade urban transport came into focus. In 2009, the federal government announced $6.6 billion of funding for improved urban mobility to host cities, and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) became a central plank of this agenda. Around 500 km of BRT systems will be constructed in eight cities, almost doubling the current BRT lineage in all of Latin America.
EMBARQ’s Center for Sustainable Transport in Brazil (CTS-Brasil) convened a pivotal international event at which President Lula declared sustainable mobility a priority for Brazilian cities—marking the first time that a president of Brazil attended an urban transport event. CTS-Brasil leveraged its expertise, relationships, reputation, and political and technical leadership to promote high-quality BRT in four major cities:
- In Recife, CTS-Brasil introduced the BRT concept and technically supported the terms of reference for contracting a $1.3 million BRT engineering design study.
- In Belo Horizonte, CTS-Brasil delivered a strategic framing workshop to align stakeholders and identify potential risks to the implementation of the three planned BRT corridors.
- In Rio de Janeiro, CTS-Brasil applied the EMBARQ BRT Simulator to provide critical support the city’s candidacy as an Olympic site.
- In Porto Alegre, CTS-Brasil and EMBARQ played a vital role in acquiring $100 million financing from CAF, and convincing CAF to approve a $1 million, non-refundable grant for refining BRT studies.
CTS-Brasil also contributed to the editing of a BRT manual which will be distributed to all urban and metropolitan bus operators throughout Brazil.
These achievements pave the way for a consistent national sustainable transport policy. In recognition of CTS-Brasil’s contributions, the Ministry of Cities invited CTS-Brasil to a prestigious group of advisors to guide its criteria for federal financing of an additional $10 billion in sustainable transit solutions.
Rio de Janeiro is a leader among the Brazilian cities aggressively promoting low-carbon development. In 2011, the city passed a landmark climate change law with a target to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 8% below the business-as-usual (BAU) emissions scenario by 2012, 16% by 2016, and 20% by 2020.
Now Rio is conducting a GHG inventory for 2012, the first target year under its climate change law. The inventory will measure the city’s emissions against its 8% reduction target for 2012, and assess the effectiveness of GHG mitigation actions implemented so far. On July 2, the city government of Rio invited me and my colleagues from the Greater London Authority and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (COPPE) to a seminar to share our experiences in conducting GHG inventories and to discuss Rio’s 2012 inventory. At the seminar, Nelson Moreira Franco, Director for Climate Change Management and Sustainable Development for the City of Rio, stressed that GHG inventories help identify emission sources and provide scientific evidence on GHG levels, so it is extremely important that the city gets it right. To me, the seminar covered four important items:
Brazil’s economy has been booming. During the past decade, it grew from the ninth to the sixth-largest in the world. While this growth has brought many socioeconomic benefits, it’s come with a downside: significant environmental impacts. Brazil has the highest rate of deforestation worldwide, while pollution threatens the country’s drinking water supply. Despite a decrease in national greenhouse gas emissions of late, agriculture emissions and energy demand are still rising.
With cities set to house almost 5 billion people by 2030, how urban transport systems are designed will be pivotal for local economies, public health, and the global environment.
In June 2012, Rio de Janeiro blazed a trail for sustainable transport when it launched a 56 km cross-city bus rapid transit (BRT) system. Designed and implemented with technical support from EMBARQ, the high-tech bus route carries 220,000 passengers a day, establishing best practice in bringing improved quality of life while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
BRT systems bring proven environmental, social, and economic benefits to crowded, congested, and polluted cities.
In Rio, the new BRT line, Transoeste, replaces short, fragmented bus routes with a rapid-transit corridor that gives priority to buses and enables passengers to cross the city on one bus instead of several. Pre-ticketing speeds journeys, as do dedicated BRT lanes and high-platform stations in place of roadside bus stops. For the first time, people from the west of Rio de Janeiro without cars can easily access opportunities in the far south.
The result is safer transport, shorter commutes, less pollution, and greater social inclusion. Typical travel time has been cut by at least half for 65 percent of riders. Surveys suggest 90 percent of passengers are satisfied with the new service. “Now I have one more hour to sleep in the morning and more time to play with my kids in the evening,” was one typical comment.
EMBARQ studies show road safety benefits from the BRT corridor. The BRT will save an estimated 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year by 2016, as well as 148 million hours of passengers’ time.
Making Change Happen: WRI’s Role
EMBARQ promotes BRT routes and their critical role in sustainable, integrated public transport systems around the world.
In Rio, EMBARQ Brazil partnered with the Municipal Secretariat for Transport and Mayor Eduardo Paes in providing technical support for Transoeste. In addition to providing design and project management expertise, EMBARQ assisted with marketing the new transport system to residents and the media. We also guide continuing safety audits that will help maximize passenger safety benefits.
By 2016, the year Rio hosts the summer Olympics, city authorities plan to expand the BRT network to 153 km. This expansion would make it the largest BRT network in Latin America, carrying 1.2 million passengers daily. By showcasing the bus transportation of the future, Rio’s actions can help promote BRT scale-up across emerging economies.
More than half the world’s population lives in cities, and they contribute more than 70 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. Therefore, city leaders are key players in global efforts to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) and curb climate change.
While many urban centers around the world are already taking action, until recently there was no broadly accepted, standardized guidance to help officials measure and report emissions from cities. This situation changed in 2012 with the release of the pilot Global Protocol for Community-Scale GHG Emissions, a comprehensive, easy-to-use pilot GHG accounting and reporting protocol jointly developed by WRI, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, and ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability.
The protocol is based on consensus built among key stakeholders, including WRI, C40, ICLEI, the World Bank, United Nations Center for Human Settlements (UN-HABITAT), and United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). More than 30 other expert international organizations also provided inputs.
Enabling Cities to Take Climate Action
Launched during the international climate talks in Bonn, Germany in May 2012, the protocol marks a major step forward for city-level GHG accounting. It guides municipal authorities through gathering comprehensive data on emission sources, tracking performance, responding to local GHG regulations, and building effective, low-carbon strategies. Cities can customize their results for local reporting needs while being compatible with a common international standard.
Besides the above expert international organizations, the protocol drew on practical experience from city officials from Buenos Aires; Eugene and Portland, Oregon; Mexico City; Paris; Taipei; Toronto; and others. The final protocol will be released in 2013 and will incorporate lessons learned by 15-20 pilot cities around the world.
Making Change Happen: WRI’s Role
WRI’s GHG Protocol standards are the prime tool used for measuring and reporting corporate GHG emissions worldwide. In developing the cities protocol, our partners agreed to adopt GHG Protocol’s “scope” approach to emissions counting, which treats direct and indirect emissions separately and avoids double-counting. Drawing on lessons we learned in providing technical assistance to cities in China and Brazil, together with C40 and ICLEI, WRI—together with C40 and ICLEI—successfully developed a comprehensive framework, which includes all urban emission sources and six types of GHGs.
During 2013, we will work with C40 and ICLEI to pilot test the draft protocol on the ground. Our GHG Protocol team is already working with cities in India, Brazil, and China.
A growing number of countries and companies now measure and manage their emissions through greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories. Cities, however, lack a common framework for tracking their own emissions—until now.
Thirty-three cities and communities from around the world started pilot testing the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions Pilot Version 1.0 (GPC Pilot Version 1.0) last month. The GPC represents the first international framework for greenhouse gas accounting for cities. It was launched in May 2012 as a joint initiative among WRI, C40, and ICLEI in collaboration with the World Bank, UN-HABITAT, and UNEP.