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.

The pilot testing cities range from small communities such as Morbach in Germany and Los Altos Hills in the United States, to mega cities like Rio de Janeiro, London, and Tokyo. Feedback from these cities will help improve the GPC and hopefully, inspire other cities to measure and manage their own emissions.

Testing City-Level GHG Accounting

The pilot phase, which extends through October of this year, will involve several elements:

1. Calculating and Re-calculating

Each of the 33 cities will analyze and calculate their GHG emissions for the most recent year of data based on the GPC requirements. For some cities, this will be the first inventory they have ever calculated. But for most, this pilot test inventory will involve taking a previous year’s inventory – often calculated using country or program specific methods – and re-calculating the inventory results to match the GPC definitions, categories, and rules. This comparison will highlight the areas where the GPC differs from existing practices, where it is consistent, and how to improve and harmonize them.

2. Webinar Discussions

During each month of the pilot test, cities will have a chance to share their inventory experiences and best practices through webinar conversations with the other pilot testers. We held our first introductory webinar on May 28th. Each monthly webinar will address a different technical topic (such as calculating waste, transportation, or electricity exports/imports) and be offered at different time zones to accommodate the international group.

3. In-Person Workshops

To supplement the webinar discussions, the GPC partners (WRI, C40, and ICLEI) will also host about 10 in-person workshops in different regions of the world. We held the first workshop in Sao Paulo, Brazil recently, bringing together more than 200 Brazilian city officials and experts to discuss how to use the GPC to measure and manage city GHG emissions. Many stakeholders—including Prof. Jose Goldemberg (former federal Minister and São Paulo State Secretary of Environment) and Nelson Moreira Franco (Director for Climate Change Management and Sustainable Development for the City of Rio)—have expressed their interest to contribute to the GPC initiative.

On June 4, we presented the GPC at an official side event to the UNFCCC Bonn Climate Change Conference. Future workshops will take place in North America, Europe, Africa, South Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia.

4. Engagement with an Advisory Committee

In addition to on-the-ground pilot testing, the GPC’s development will benefit from high-level guidance provided by our newly formed Advisory Committee. This committee held its first meeting on June 2 in Bonn, Germany, and currently consists of 17 members, including GPC partners, World Bank, UN-HABITAT, UNEP, OECD, WBCSD, BSI, R20, CDP, UNFCCC, IPCC, ICLEI USA, Clean Air Asia, WWF, and IGES/NIES. In the coming month, we will expand the committee to about 40 members to include other international organizations, national governments, cities, and independent foundations.

5. Broader Stakeholder Feedback

If you would like to contribute to the GPC development, or if you are interested in learning more about the GPC, please register at our website.

•LEARN MORE: For more information on city and community GHG accounting, please visit the GHG Protocol website.