Boom in cities reporting on climate

5th August 2016

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  • Mitigation ,
  • Reporting ,
  • Public sector


John Evans

There has been a 70% increase in cities reporting their actions on climate change to the CDP. Submissions from UK cities show frustration with recent government policy changes.

Some 533 cities, representing over 620 million people, reported details of their carbon emissions and climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies to the CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) in 2015. That is up from 314 the previous year, the CDP said.

The surge is partly down to the UN-backed Compact of Mayors, a network that is trying to standardise cities’ reporting on climate issues, and provide them with support to spur action. Cities that sign up to it have to report details of their climate strategies to either the CDP or the carbonn Climate Registry.

The growth has been global, with 46 cities in Africa reporting data – up from 12 in 2014, although their responses generally lack detail compared to those from American and European. Kisumu, the third largest city in Kenya, said in its responses that it did not have a greenhouse-gas (GHG) reduction target because it did not have ‘adequate capacity and resources to develop a plan and measure changes in emissions’.

Eight UK cities reported in 2015: Birmingham and Cambridge for the first time, as well as Bournemouth, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leicester, London and Manchester. Cambridge chose to keep its data private.

It is impossible to compare council’s reported emissions since they all include different activities. However, the responses reveal a wide range of engagement with climate change issues. Bournemouth went into far greater detail than others on the risks climate change poses to the city and how it is trying to adapt. It noted, for example, that heat waves would lead to ‘poor teaching conditions…impacting children’s education standards’.

Several of the responses from UK cities expressed frustration with government policy. Leicester said the recent removal of a raft of energy efficiency policies, such the Code for Sustainable Homes, would ‘impact the efficiency of development in the city’ and prevent the council from demanding that new developments have onsite renewables energy sources. Birmingham noted that the national legislative levers for sustainability have been rapidly disappearing. It said the demise of the Green Deal energy efficiency scheme had been a concern.

The response from Bournemouth highlighted its use of EU funds to push climate policies and suggested Brexit might put the delivery of its strategy at risk.

The number of cities reporting is likely to grow further next year. In June, the Compact of Mayors announced it would be merging with the EU’s Covenant of Mayors group to form a new high-profile body, the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. The reporting requirements are expected to be the same.


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