Hundreds of cities are starting to get serious about curbing climate change. Fast-growing Chengdu, China, is putting evidence-based low-carbon planning into action.
Compact of Mayors
Cities designed for cars rather than people create an urban existence that is bad for the economy, bad for family life and terrible for the environment. We can -- we must -- do better in the 21st century, as WRI President and CEO Andrew Steer explains.
The inclusion of cities at COP21 demonstrated a new narrative, explains WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities Director Ani Dasgupta. There is now widespread recognition of cities as global problem-solvers, capable of tackling broad issues like climate change.
Never in the history of UN climate summits has there been such a bright spotlight on transport. This is a momentous kick-start to promote widespread adoption of sustainable mobility in order to curb climate change.
What led to the successful adoption of the Paris Agreement at COP21? WRI's Michael Oko sees persistence, determination and the increasing clarity of climate science as key factors.
More cities are using the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories (GPC), an international standard that WRI created for cities to measure and report on their emissions. Already, more than 300 cities – up from about 100 at the end of 2014 – have committed to use the GPC. These cities are home to more than 300 million people and annually emit about 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent – roughly the same as Brazil and Germany’s total annual emissions combined.
Cities are responsible for 70 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. More than half of the world’s people currently live in urban areas, and this is expected to grow to two-thirds by 2050. As such, cities represent the single greatest opportunity for tackling climate change. To take effective action, however, cities need reliable data on their emissions.
WRI partnered with C40 and ICLEI to create the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories, launched in December 2014. The GPC, which builds on WRI’s flagship Greenhouse Gas Protocol, provides a common standard enabling cities to accurately and comprehensively measure their emissions, set reduction strategies and track their progress.
Starting in 2013, WRI, C40 and ICLEI piloted the GPC in 35 cities and actively engaged organizations to ensure broad adoption. The Compact of Mayors, the carbonn Climate Registry, CDP, the World Bank, UN-HABITAT, the Inter-American Development Bank, the British Standards Institution and many other organizations have now adopted the GPC standard.
The GPC is the first widely endorsed international standard for cities to measure and report their emissions. Using the GPC, cities can assess what strategies are working and hold themselves accountable for results. Better data can also help to drive investment, providing cities improved access to local and international climate financing.
The more than 300 cities worldwide that have joined the Compact of Mayors have committed to measure their emissions using the GPC, develop action plans to reduce emissions and publicly report on their progress. Many have committed to emission reduction targets. If all Compact of Mayors cities commit to a similar level of ambition, they could collectively avoid the emission of 700 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2030 – comparable to removing nearly all passenger cars from U.S. roads. As more cities join the Compact of Mayors and adopt the GPC, the potential impact on curbing climate change will increase.
The technical note describes the methodologies used in the model for estimating collective greenhouse gas impacts of Compact of Mayors cities.