Last week, 19 mayors from around the world — from Paris to London to New York — signed a significant commitment to cut greenhouse gasses in their cities by ensuring that new buildings operate at net-zero carbon by 2030.
A total of 19 cities connected through the C40 Cities network signed the Net-Zero Carbon Buildings Declaration last week, which aims to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions from cities by ensuring that all new buildings operate at net-zero carbon by 2030. The Declaration was signed by mayors from Copenhagen, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Montreal, New York City, Newburyport, Paris, Portland, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Monica, Stockholm, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto, Tshwane, Vancouver, and Washington D.C..
The signing of the Declaration comes in advance of the Global Climate Action Summit set to be held in San Francisco over the 12th to 14th of September under the theme “Taking Ambition to the Next Level.”
“Climate change poses an existential threat to New York City, and making our buildings more sustainable and efficient is a key part of the solution,” said Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City, one of the 19 mayors to sign the Declaration. “With this commitment, we’re delivering on our promise to make New York City cleaner and safer for generations to come by meeting the Paris agreement. We’re proud to stand alongside other cities worldwide that are taking bold and meaningful steps to cut the pollution driving climate change.”
According to the information provided about the Declaration, Net-Zero Buildings use energy “ultra-efficiently” and rely on renewable energy sources to meet the rest of their energy needs. The importance of focusing attention on the energy usage and efficiency of buildings stems from the fact that, on average, urban buildings typically account for over half of a city’s total emissions, and in London, Los Angeles, and Paris, buildings account for over 70% of the cities’ overall emissions.
“Considering that the energy used for powering, heating and cooling of buildings accounts for more than 25% of the GHG emissions produced by South African cities, action to make buildings more energy efficient has a huge potential to reduce GHG emission,” explained said Executive Mayor of the City Tshwane, Cllr Solly Msimanga. “Expect to see major shifts in our approach to powering our buildings as we become one of the first African Capital Cities to make a clear commitment towards Net Zero Carbon in new buildings by 2030, a development we are so excited about! By virtue of their national status, Capital Cities are home to Government Departments, Diplomatic Missions, Scientific and Research institutions and academic institutions. The City of Tshwane is leveraging on strong partnerships with such institutions to influence an uptake of ambitious target of cutting emissions in buildings and meet our targets by 2050.”
“Combating climate change is a moral necessity, an environmental imperative, and an economic opportunity — and Los Angeles is proud to be a leader in creating our clean energy future,” added Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “By pledging to reduce the carbon footprint of our buildings, cities are moving us another step closer to the goals of the Paris Agreement — and the promise of lower emissions, less pollution, and more renewable energy innovation.”
The Declaration signed last week will see the cities pledging to work together with state and regional governments as well as the private sector to drive a transformation towards net-zero carbon and is part of the World Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Building Commitment for Businesses, Cities, States and Regions. Specifically, the cities adhering to this commitment will:
- Establish a roadmap for our commitment to reach net-zero carbon buildings
- Develop a suite of supporting incentives and programmes
- Report annually on progress towards meeting our targets
- Evaluate the feasibility of reporting on emissions beyond operational carbon (such as refrigerants).
In addition to the pledges made within the Declaration, 13 of the cities involved — Copenhagen, Johannesburg, Montreal, Newburyport, Paris, Portland, San Jose, Santa Monica, Stockholm, Sydney, Toronto, Tshwane, and Vancouver — have committed to owning, occupying, and developing only assets that are net-zero carbon by 2030. In an effort to achieve this particular target, cities will:
- Evaluate the current energy demand and carbon emissions from their municipal buildings, and identify opportunities for reduction
- Establish a roadmap for their commitment to reach net zero carbon municipal buildings
- Report annually on progress towards meeting their targets
- Evaluate the feasibility of including emissions beyond operational carbon (such as refrigerants)
“At the City of Sydney, we’ve been carbon neutral since 2007, and certified since 2011,” said Clover Moore, Lord Mayor of Sydney. “In the face of shocking inaction by National Government here in Australia, we are proud to commit to even more ambitious climate action in the lead up to the Global Climate Action Summit. We can only achieve these targets by working with our residents and the commercial and corporate sectors. Australia is among the highest producers of greenhouse gas emissions per capita, so it is heartening that some of Australia’s major corporations lead the world in sustainability. And with many now setting more ambitious energy efficiency and net zero targets, I’m confident we will sustain that position.”