While many of these criticisms are justified, if one looks beyond the shiny new stadiums—namely, to the city streets—a more positive story emerges. World Cup-related investments helped finance sustainable transport systems that will benefit Brazilians long after the final whistle blows.
low carbon cities
The C40 Cities Mayors Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa kicks off today. It’s the fifth biennial meeting of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a collection of mayors from cities around the world committed to advancing urban solutions to climate change. The theme for the event is “Towards resilient and liveable megacities—demonstrating action, impact, and opportunity.”
Before the talks begin, check out Andrew Steer’s thoughts on how we can learn from forward-thinking cities to advance sustainable urbanization.
Two weeks ago, EMBARQ, the sustainable transport and urban development program of the World Resources Institute (WRI), and the World Bank co-hosted Transforming Transportation. The two-day event concluded with the announcement of Transport Delivers, a global campaign calling city and national leaders to better integrate sustainable transport into policy discussions on development and climate change. If the campaign’s objectives are fully implemented, they could be a game-changer for today’s cities – as well as tomorrow’s.
At least 60 cities and communities from around the world have formally adopted the Global Protocol for Community-Scale GHG Emissions (GPC). This international greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting standard for cities was jointly developed by WRI, the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI).
Cities account for more than 70 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. Many recognize the importance of GHG inventories in city planning and have started measuring and reporting their GHG emissions. However, the absence of a universal accounting standard led to a number of issues in city GHG inventories, including:
- Inconsistency: Inventories varied in types of gases measured, emissions sources included, and categorization of emissions, reducing clarity and comparability of results.
- Incompleteness: Many of the methods out there focus only on carbon dioxide emissions, excluding other essential greenhouse gases covered under the Kyoto Protocol.
- Double-counting: Due to unclear categorization and division of direct and indirect emissions, double-counting within and between inventories occurred.
These differences confused and sometimes misled decision-makers, users, and practitioners.
The pilot version of the GPC was released in 35 cities in May 2012. In the first 6 months, the three core partners deliberated on how to develop the standard together and engage diverse cities. Early this year, the partners agreed that the GHG Protocol program at WRI would lead development of the GPC while C40 and ICLEI would lever their extensive city networks to participate as pilot testers. WRI has since established an advisory committee that consists of more than 30 international organizations, cities, national governments, and foundations.
Within a year of the GPC’s launch, we have influenced 60 cities to measure and report city-wide GHG emissions. Successful implementation by these pioneer cities has created momentum to scale up GPC’s global adoption in other cities. In particular, we continue to work with our partners to promote it in China, Brazil, and India. In these countries, we’ve begun developing country-specific, GHG calculation tools and provided training and technical assistance to help local practitioners. Once the GPC is finalized in early 2014, we aim to convince more than 500 cities to use the standard by 2018.
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:
In October 2011, WRI launched a five-year global initiative to advance the progress of building environmentally sustainable and livable cities in China, India, and Brazil.