Climate change report shows cities working together


Johannesburg has undertaken mitigation and adaptation measures to combat climate change, in particular, its bus rapid transit system. (Image: Media Club South Africa)

• Mike Marinello
Global Communications
+1 917 683 8610

Lucille Davie

When it comes to climate change, cities are “shifting the global conversation” and are taking action to combat the problem. The leading cities are also dedicated to working together on the issue, according to the C40 Cities Climate Leadership summit.

This is a key finding in the Climate Action in Megacities Volume 2.0 (CAM 2.0) report, which was released last week at the summit in Johannesburg. “Mayors have real power to cut emissions and improve climate resilience, and they are taking action,” said the new C40 chair, Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes. “C40’s networks and efforts on measurement and reporting are accelerating city-led action at a transformative scale around the world.”

C40 is a network of megacities around the world working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the local and global impact of climate change. It consists of 66 cities, seven of which are African. These cities are home to 600 million people; they produce 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and 21% of world gross domestic product. For three days last week, representatives from some 45 of them attended the summit. Among them were more than 18 mayors, including Joburg’s Executive Mayor Parks Tau. Tau was the host of the event.

“What happens in C40 cities matters to the whole world,” reads the CAM 2.0. “In the continued absence of tangible outcomes from inter-governmental efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is increasingly significant that mayors of the world’s greatest cities are taking concrete actions that demonstrate that preventing catastrophic climate change is possible.”

The first CAM report was published in 2011. The key findings of CAM 2.0 include:

• Reported action by cities has nearly doubled since 2011, with more than 8 000 climate actions now undertaken;

• That 98% of cities recognise that climate change presents significant risks to their populations and infrastructure;

• There is successful collaboration and learning between cities, with, for instance, a 500% increase in cities implementing bike-sharing schemes, up from six in 2011 to 36 in 2013; and,

• A bus rapid transit system has been implemented in 29 cities, 13 in the southern hemisphere, and 16 in developed countries.

“By using data to show what works – and what’s possible – cities can inform the global conversation on climate change and contribute to aggressive national targets to reduce emissions,” said Michael Bloomberg, the outgoing C4 chair and three times mayor of New York City. He has since been appointed president of the C40 board.

Key findings

Key findings in some of the important sectors in CAM 2.0 include finance and economic development; adaptation and water; energy supply and efficiency; sustainable communities; and transport.

Regarding finance and economic development, 47% of cities have established funds to invest in energy efficiency, renewable energy or carbon reduction projects. Over 50% of planned interventions are in the pilot stage. Cities are taking climate adaptation seriously, with 98% of them recognising it as a significant risk. Some 80% of cities are subsequently allocating funding and 83% are allocating staff resources to develop solutions.

The waste-to-energy process is a cross-sector success, with cities reporting the highest proportion – at 64% – of significant actions, including capturing methane gas at landfills and generating low carbon energy through treatment at waste facilities. Some 92% of cities taking action on landfill management are implementing gas-to-energy programmes. About one-third of energy supply actions planned for future expansion will focus on energy generation from waste.

In addition, 90% of cities are taking action on outdoor lighting to reduce emissions from street lights, at the same time introducing smart street lighting technology. Insulation and monitoring energy usage in buildings are also the focus of 69% of cities’ actions.

C40 cities are implementing more than 350 actions on sustainable community development, with a trend towards more transformative actions rather than just pilots or proposed actions. Some 76% of cities plan to expand community development action already in progress, indicating that cities are accelerating their response to climate change.

The greatest increase in reported actions was in the transport sector, where there has been a 150% increase in actions compared to 2011. Cities are taking 1 534 actions in transport, 873 of which are in private transport and 661 in mass transit. Some 40% are to promote walking and cycling, more than any other action in private transport.

“A global network, now 63 [revised to 66] members strong, our cities are informing and shifting the global conversation on climate change because they have shown themselves to be uniquely capable of devising and implementing climate change solutions – both reducing emissions and increasing urban resilience,” writes Bloomberg in the foreword to the report.