Report: Cities Identify Potential Economic Growth from Climate Change Mitigation Measures
I was privileged to be engaged in AECOM’s partnership with the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) to develop its second Global Cities Report (AECOM partnered with CDP to analyze the data and design of the report). To my mind this is not only an important initiative but highly instructive for cities around the world as they struggle to define and analyze the costs and benefits associated with reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The CDP is modeled after the Clinton Foundation’s successful initiative to reduce the cost of medicine through bulk purchasing. However a “one size fits all” approach to carbon reduction could not adequately address the needs of such diverse geographies, industries, cultures and populations so the initiative evolved into a survey and technical assistance initiative. The survey continues to be refined and improved each year as it engages mayors and cities across the globe in articulating what matters most to them and their constituents in reducing the generation and subsequent undesirable consequences of greenhouse gas production.
All the C40 Cities plus 33 other major cities participated in the survey. The results show that local governments have tremendous capacity within their own planning, engineering, and other service departments, to directly affect greenhouse gas production and reduce the cumulative consequences for the environment and public health.
More than 80% of the total 73 disclosing cities identify the potential for economic growth as a result of implementing climate change mitigation and adaptation measures. More than half the participating cities identify opportunities to create green jobs and new business initiatives. Despite the substantial prospects for green growth from tackling climate change, just under a third of cities expect new sources of funding for tackling climate change.
The reporting cities cite a wide variety of financial drivers for climate change action, with nearly a third expecting improved energy efficiency of their operations and a fifth recognizing the increased energy security that action on climate change affords. However, job creation and industry growth are by far the most prominently opportunities mentioned, with 55% of cities anticipating the creation of green jobs and 53% predicting new business from clean tech industries or the development of new low-carbon economy technologies.
Following are some other key findings from the CDP Cities 2012 Global Report:
All the reporting C40 cities and 81% of the total 73 disclosing cities are responding to the urgency of climate change by implementing a range of carbon emissions reductions activities, from education programs to waste management. With 64% of these initiatives funded through general municipal funds, cities are largely financing their climate change actions without significant external support.
According the report, a number of cities are seeing heat as a top risk. Not just in terms of the use of more power for air conditioning but as a health risk. Europe’s catastrophic heat wave of 2003 (to which was attributed by some estimates approximately 70,000 deaths) remains a signal event in alerting cities to the public health threat presented by extended periods of high temperatures, particularly among the elderly and infirmed.
Heat waves and increased temperatures already threaten many cities—regardless of their average temperatures. Of the 13 cities with cool average temperatures (between 0° and 10°), nine report heat waves and rising temperatures as risks. This group includes Stockholm, which reports that more frequent heat waves pose threats to human health and may cause more deaths over the medium-term. High percentages of cities in warmer climates also report facing risks from rising temperatures.
The report also shows that the concept of measuring city-wide emissions annually is catching on. Fifteen cities measure their city-wide emissions and report them annually, including San Francisco, London, and New York City. Fifty-one out of the 73 cities that reported to CDP this year (70%) disclosed city-wide emissions inventories. This number represents a small increase from last year’s report, in which 31 out of 48 cities (65%) reported city-wide inventories. At least one city from every region of the world reports an emissions inventory, with North America and Europe showing the highest percentages of emissions-reporting cities.
All in all, the results show a positive direction toward a municipal economies that can realize financial advantages while addressing the most pressing environmental and social concerns of our age.
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