25 June 2013 — A new report published by the international climate change not-for-profit Carbon Disclosure Project, in conjunction with AECOM and C40 Cities, shows that while governments struggle with climate change action, global cities are leading the way forward, and seeing tangible financial benefits.
Even cities where climate change was unpopular were taking action because of the associated financial, business and health benefits, the report said.
Wealthier, healthier cities details the carbon and water strategies of over 100 cities around the world, including the City of Sydney and City of Melbourne, and uses analysis by AECOM to show that improved energy efficiency is the key climate change strategy being used around the world.
The City of Sydney was estimated to be saving $800,000 a year in energy efficiency savings, while the figure for Los Angeles was $13 million.
The report said initiatives being taken by cities globally were likely to boost the economy, with 62 per cent having the potential to attract new business investment.
Another key finding was that city climate change strategies were having health benefits, with over half of cities surveyed employing strategies that promoted walking and cycling, and adaptation measures to protect against the negative health implications of climate change.
Head of CDP’s cities program Conor Riffle said that national governments needed to pay attention to the work cities were doing.
“Cities are hotbeds of innovation, and local governments have been quick to implement many new ways to combat and adapt to climate change and resource scarcity,” he said. “These leading cities are enjoying multiple paybacks for their economies and communities.”
AECOM chief sustainability officer Gary Lawrence said that cities were increasing showing climate change leadership.
“We’re seeing expanded participation and evidence of cities better understanding risk avoidance, resilience and capital investment strategies that create more value, address concerns for human health and link to stronger economic outcomes.”
In London, Mayor and Conservative Party member Boris Johnson said that energy efficiency measures were driving investment and growth.
“The green sector represents a new area of expertise and innovation for London, providing jobs and attracting investment while significant CO2 reductions can save businesses substantial sums, improve air quality and make the capital a better place to live and work,” he said.
The report concluded that many cities were pursuing climate change action because of the associated co-benefits, and measures were being taken even in cities where climate change action was unpopular.
“Climate change action by city governments can yield strong and clear advantages for their citizens and businesses beyond simply being good for the planet,” it stated.