Cities can be climate champions

The C 40 Cities are taking bold climate action, leading the way towards a healthier and more sustainable future. Prince Edward Council should adopt their best practices.

(Kazuhiro Nogi/Getty Images)

When it comes to spewing carbon into the air, urban areas are among the biggest offenders.

But cities also lead the way when it comes to taking significant action to get those emissions down, according to David Miller, director of international diplomacy for the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.

“With a few exceptions, it’s been the leadership of the cities that’s really been pushing the envelope and moving towards what’s necessary, not just what’s easy,” said Miller, a former mayor of Toronto.

Research by C40, a network of 94 global cities committed to addressing climate change, shows about 70 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from urban areas.

It’s predominantly from four sources:

    • How we generate electricity.
    • Transportation.
    • How we heat and cool buildings.
    • How we manage our waste.

In a recent interview, Miller laid out which cities he believes are leading the way with innovative ideas — and results.

Oslo, for example, has a climate budget, which is managed by the city’s finance department and runs alongside the normal budgeting process. According to C40, Oslo city council can only approve spending plans that have a realistic chance of hitting their emission-reduction targets.

So if you want to build, say, a new curling rink, Miller said, you have to consider how much carbon that rink will use. “And if there isn’t a carbon budget, the same way if there isn’t a financial budget, you can’t do it.”

In 2010, Tokyo (above photo) became the first city in the world to implement an urbancap-and-trade system for its large buildings. That required industrial and commercial facilities to achieve an absolute reduction of emissions from 2009 levels. The goal was six to eight per cent in the first four years of the program. But research by Cornell University and the Tokyo government found that in the first five years, the program resulted in a 20 per cent reduction in emissions.

And they barely even needed the “trade” part to do it. City records showed only a handful of facilities bought credits to hit their target. MORE

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