Today, kudos go out to the city of Boston, a member of the City Energy Project, for joining a growing cadre of leading cities that are committing to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 or before. Boston's pledge comes as part of the newly launched, international Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance (CNCA). The Alliance includes 17 of the world's most populous cities, from Australia, Japan, Northern Europe, the UK, and the U.S. Each of them has committed to this ambitious and world-saving target that scientists say we must reach in order to stave off climate change's worst effects. (Some CNCA cities have made plans even bolder than 80 percent by 2050, by the way. Melbourne, Australia and Copenhagen have pledged to become carbon neutral by 2020 or 2025, respectively.)
With cities responsible for an estimated 75 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, the leadership that the CNCA and CEP cities are providing will lead the way to substantial greenhouse gas reductions, including those President Obama committed to this week, as part of the United Nations' international climate negotiation process. This leadership will also make cities better places to live, create local jobs, improve air quality, and reduce energy costs.
Berlin, London, New York, Oslo, San Francisco, Sydney, Washington D.C., and Yokohama, Japan are just some of the cities that have signed up for the CNCA. And while cutting citywide carbon emissions by 80 percent is a big task, it's eminently do-able. The Alliance cities plan to reach their targets, both individually and collectively, by:
- Developing approaches, analyses, and tools that support carbon neutrality, including standardized tools for measuring progress and verifying it.
- Creating, implementing, and sharing best practices in transportation, buildings' energy use, and waste systems.
- Advocating for policy changes at the state, regional, and federal levels, and working with other stakeholders who are key to cities' successes.
- Communicating with a common voice.
- Investing in high-potential innovations.
- And, sharing with a broader audience of cities around the world, to help them become the next wave of climate leaders.
Many of these practices are also championed by City Energy Project participants. The eight US cities that have joined the new alliance, along with the 10 cities that make up the City Energy Project, are climate trailblazers. They recognize that addressing climate change requires both individual city leadership and collaboration among peers. (The Kresge Foundation also deserves recognition and thanks for its support of cities as climate leaders. It underwrites both CNCA and CEP.)
Our cities have long served as hubs for innovation. New carbon reduction commitments, like Boston's, not only maintain and build on this legacy, they also raise the bar, creating approaches and programs that other cities can follow.