With progress on global warming stalled at the national and international levels, a new initiative aims to get the world’s largest cities to report on their contributions to, and preparations for, climate change. CDP Cities allows for the reporting of quantitative data, such as greenhouse gas inventories, as well as the qualitative data that acknowledges the different characteristics of individual cities. This more customized approach is expected to help cities prepare for and communicate their unique issues to all stakeholders more effectively. New York, London and Toronto have already signed on with CDP Cities. NYC Mayor Bloomberg noted, “We will never meet the ambitious goals we set as an organization without solid data to measure our progress; as I’ve always said: If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” The voluntary disclosures come in partnership with the Clinton Climate Initiative and the C40, a group of the 40 largest cities (along with 19 affiliates) to measure and report on their greenhouse gas emissions to the non-profit Carbon Disclosure Project.
A report accompanying the announcement notes that cities consume 60-80% of the world’s energy and could be responsible for as much as 80% of total emissions. At the same time, cities are vulnerable to the impacts of extreme weather events and rising sea levels that are expected to come as the earth’s temperature rises.
Meta-level progress on climate change has been elusive, given the failure at last year’s COP15 meeting in Copenhagen. In the U.S., it is expected that this week’s election results will strengthen GOP efforts to block cap and trade and prevent the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide.
(Though there is some hope for progress at the state level: California voters rejected Proposition 23, which would have placed a moratorium on greenhouse gas regulation efforts, and voters put into office strong climate change action supporters Senator Barbara Boxer and the new governor, Jerry Brown.)
Business too, has a long way to go. According to Ethical Corporation magazine, the NGO Carbon Disclosure Project reports that only half of the world’s largest companies have established greenhouse gas reduction goals, and only 19% of the biggest corporations have made any significant emissions reductions.
So with business dragging its feet and national and international setbacks, progress at the city level seems to be our best hope for carbon reduction and any chance of turning back global warming.
Is your city participating? Here’s the map of C40 members: http://www.c40cities.org/images/c40citiesmap-lg.jpg
Photo: Much to lose, much to gain. Pollution in Mexico City
Usfirstgov at en.wikipedia, Creative Commons license.