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Collaboration Vital For Cities To Tackle Climate Change

A new report has reaffirmed the vital need for cities to collaborate with companies, investors, and regional governments to mitigate the impact of climate change.

Published this week, the new report by global infrastructure firm AECOM and non-profit organization CDP, sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies, is their fifth annual report, and further clarifies the need for cities already intent on doing something to mitigate climate change to collaborate with companies, investors, and regional governments. The report highlights nearly 300 cities across the planet that have already called for collaborative action to combat the economic and environmental impact of climate change. The report, It Takes a City: the Case for Collaborative Climate Action, is based on climate data from 533 cities in 89 countries disclosed through CDP’s cities program. This is a 70% increase on the previous year’s report, and reveals that 89% of the cities view climate change as a significant risk, 44% have a climate action plan in place, and 36% have city-wide emissions reduction targets.

Of the 190 cities with emissions reduction targets in place, 74% are already collaborating with businesses to achieve them.

However, the report estimates that the 720 climate change-related projects required by cities represented in the report are worth a combined $26 billion, while the total investment needed in cities into low carbon transport, energy, water, waste, and telecommunications infrastructure is currently estimated at $57 trillion between now and 2030.


The authors of the report rightly note that “Investment of this magnitude can only be delivered through collaboration with businesses and investors.”

“This data supports what we are seeing in our direct dealings with cities,” said Ben Smith, director of sustainable development, AECOM. “Cities the world over are identifying their priorities to reduce emissions, adapt to climate impacts and increase resilience, but more and more they are looking for partners to help them develop robust business cases and realize the solutions.”

“Our report shows that cities do not need to go it alone when it comes to responding to climate change,” added Maia Kutner, head of cities at CDP. “They are recognizing there is power in numbers, which is why so many came together to form the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy this June. By partnering with the private sector, cities can not only spur the growth of new markets, they can deliver even greater emissions reductions.”

The authors of the report explain that collaboration with businesses and investors “enhances a city government’s ability to account for its emissions and manage them.”

“Despite the considerable power often in the hands of city authorities, the bulk of emissions in a city typically come from sources over which it exercises no direct control. For example, New York City’s municipal operations account for just 7% of total citywide emissions. Globally, cities’ municipal operations produce just 3% of total citywide emissions. The remainder comes from sources such as buildings and private transport where business, other levels of government, or citizens exercise control.”

Further, the report acknowledges that climate change is a shared problem between governments, cities, businesses, and investors, each with a shared and individual interest in reducing the impacts of global climate change. The report also explains that collaboration works, with data showing “that cities who collaborate on climate action are not only more likely to have an emissions reduction target, but that target is more likely to be ambitious.”

“Why is this? Collaboration provides opportunities to share skills, knowledge, and resources between cities and other actors. Cities can help businesses raise finance for climate action. They can – and do – set longer-term plans and targets that can provide the context for companies to be more ambitious and forward-looking in their planning.”

The full report is available for download here.

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