What do Athens, Lisbon and Milan all have in common? They’re among cities around the world where greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have already peaked – and that’s good news found in the latest analysis from C40 Cities.
It’s a big milestone ahead of the 2020 target for meeting peak GHG emissions in the short term, in line with keeping global warming below 1.5°C in the long term. These 30 successful cities are scattered across Europe, North America and Australia, and include places from Barcelona in Spain to New York City, and from Stockholm to Sydney.
“The fact that 30 of the world’s largest and most influential cities have already peaked greenhouse gas emissions demonstrates that a rapid, equitable low-carbon transition is possible, and is already well underway,” said C40 cities in its statement. “Since reaching peak emissions levels, these 30 cities have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 22 percent.”
The announcement was made in connection with the C40 World Mayors Summit hosted by Copenhagen, which has reduced its emissions by up to 61 percent. The summit concluded on Saturday.
As of last week, half of all of the C40 cities have attained their peak-emission levels and will contribute less GHG to the overall toll, or they are projected to do so by 2020 or have plans to meet their goals.
Some 58 million people live in these successful cities but overall global emissions continue to rise, so the C40 Cities network launched a new tool called Knowledge Hub to share what’s been working.
Mark Watts, the organization’s executive director, warns there is much more of that work to be done. ”This is nothing to win medals for – emissions across the whole world need to stop rising and start falling within the next year, if we are to keep global heating below 1.5 degrees,” he said.
The C40 Knowledge Hub is expected to accelerate the pace of successful climate action and “deliver the future we want,” Watts added. The online hub offers policy briefs, data, case studies and more, and represents the collective work of cities that have road-tested the changes needed to respond to the climate crisis. It also offers an encouraging look at how the planet’s cities – integral to the climate fight, and expected to grow in future size and population density – have progressed so far.
For example, just two cities had enacted single-use plastic bans in 2009, but today that’s risen to 18. In that same 10 years, the number of cities with restrictions on high-polluting vehicles went from three to 17, those with bicycle-share systems grew from 13 to 82, and less than 100 electric buses became 66,000. Just four global cities had plans to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2030; now it’s 24.
The best part is that the cities-helping-cities model for Knowledge Hub is rooted in actual practice: Some 30 percent of all decisions that cities make to take climate action have been done in collaboration already, with the help of other cities walking the same path and sharing what they’ve learned.