North American Cities Lead On Environmental Action Despite COVID-19CDP
- Of the 88 global cities on CDP’s A List this year, 31 are from North America – 25 in the U.S. and 6 in Canada – making up 35% of the total A List.
- Miami, San Luis Obispo, San Antonio and Halifax are among the North American leaders on the 2020 Cities A List.
- Despite the coronavirus pandemic, 34% of cities are new to this year’s A List.
- This year’s A List shows major progress since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015, demonstrating that impactful and urgent environmental action is possible:
- Only 61% of cities on this year’s A List (54/88) disclosed their environmental data through CDP in 2015.
- In 2015, half of the cities on the 2020 A List (44/88) did not report greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets. Today, they all report targets and 38% (33/88) aim to reach net zero emissions by 2050 or earlier.
- All A List cities have also made progress on building resilience to climate change, reporting plans to adapt to climate impacts. In 2015, only 30% (26/88) of 2020 A List cities were reporting such plans.
November 16, 2020 – New York: 31 North American cities including Miami, San Luis Obispo, San Antonio and Halifax Municipality have earned a place on CDP’s Cities 2020 A List, recognizing their transparency and ambitious environmental action. Despite the pressures of tackling COVID-19, the U.S. again led with the most A List cities, with 25 cities representing 28% of the global Cities A List.
These North American cities are among 88 from across the world named by global environmental non-profit CDP as leaders on environmental action. Designed to drive and support cities to ramp up their climate action and ambition, CDP’s A List is based on environmental data disclosed by hundreds of cities through the CDP-ICLEI Unified Reporting System in 2020.
“On the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement, it is gratifying to take stock of the environmental progress made to date by cities, states and regions in North America,” said Katie Walsh, Head of Cities, States and Regions at CDP North America. “U.S. and Canadian cities are leading the charge, deepening their dedication to transparency around environmental impact and taking ambitious actions to mitigate and adapt to worsening climate change. Particularly during the COVID-19 crisis, it is gratifying to see the U.S. and Canada populate such a large portion of this year’s A List, and we congratulate them for their leadership.”
To score an A, a city must have a city-wide emissions inventory, have set an emissions reduction target, have published a climate action plan and have completed a climate adaptation plan to demonstrate how it will tackle climate hazards now and in the future, among other actions.
Five years since the Paris Agreement was signed, the latest climate science is clear: global emissions must be halved by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 to avoid catastrophic climate change. The cities on this year’s A List demonstrate that impactful and urgent action is possible. Although almost 40% of cities on this year’s A List did not disclose to CDP in 2015, they have fast ramped up their environmental action and ambition, setting ambitious emissions reduction targets and building resilience against climate change.
Analysis shows that the number of 2020 A List cities reporting emissions reduction targets has more than doubled since 2015, with 38% of these cities setting net zero targets by 2050 or earlier. Cities have also made progress on building resilience to climate change. In 2015, only 30% of the 2020 A List cities reported having an adaptation plan. Actions taken by A List cities include community engagement/education, tree planting/creation of green space and flood mapping.
“As one of the largest cities in the U.S., San Antonio must prepare for our future and safeguard our citizens,” said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “Temperatures in South Texas are climbing, threatening vulnerable populations with drought, flooding and vector-borne disease – which is why we continue to work toward the environmental goals laid out in our Climate Action and Adaptation Plan. Recognition on CDP’s A List is a strong signal that we are on the right track toward true environmental resiliency.”
Examples of environmental leadership by North American cities include:
- Halifax Regional Municipality passed a deep energy retrofit program focusing on mitigation that will require all existing buildings across the municipality to reach net zero energy consumption over the next 10 years.
- Los Angeles is investing US$8 billion in upgrades to its grid by 2022, US$860 million per year to expand the transportation system and billions more to build clean energy buildings.
- Vancouver has increased green jobs by 35% since 2009 and is planning to launch a clean tech accelerator to promote the growth of green businesses in the city.
- San Antonio has completed 409 energy efficiency projects within 187 municipal facilities between 2011 and 2018, resulting in US$1.5M in avoided costs.
- San Luis Obispo offers 100% carbon-free electricity to citizens as part of a community choice energy program that serves the counties of Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 34% of cities are new to this year’s A List. New leaders across North America include the Village of Park Forest, IL; Louisville KY; and the City of San Luis Obispo, CA.
“As a first-time discloser to CDP, we are thrilled to be included among this year’s A List cities,” said Tom Mick, Village Manager of Park Forest, IL. “The Mayor, Board of Trustees and the whole leadership team in Park Forest is committed to becoming the most sustainable community in Illinois. We believe environmental action is more important than ever during this unprecedented time, and that employing economically, socially and environmentally sustainable practices can help our residents save money, time and resources – making it easier and more enjoyable for them to stay at home. Being recognized on the A List is possible because of the ongoing hard work being carried out by the Village’s Planning and Sustainability Staff.”
The next step for cities
While there has been major progress, more needs to be done and by a greater number of cities. A significant next step is setting science-based targets to rapidly cut emissions in line with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C. Cities will be able to learn more about this and how to join the UNFCCC’s Race To Zero campaign with the support of a guide on science-based climate targets for cities, launching on November 18th.
The full A List of cities is published here.
To see all data reported by cities, visit CDP’s Open Data Portal here.
Notes to Editors
In response to local and regional governments calling for a simpler reporting process, the CDP-ICLEI Unified Reporting System was launched in April 2019. In that same year, over 830 cities disclosed compared to 43 in 2011 when Cities disclosure began. This steep increase reflects the growing number of cities taking action to lead the transition to a resilient, net zero future.
For more information or interview requests please contact:
Anna Clark, Director of Communications, CDP North America
CDP is a global non-profit that drives companies, cities and governments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard water resources and protect forests. Voted number one climate research provider by investors and working with institutional investors with assets of US$96 trillion, we leverage investor and buyer power to motivate companies to disclose and manage their environmental impacts. Over 9,600 companies with over 50% of global market capitalization disclosed environmental data through CDP in 2020. This is in addition to the hundreds of cities, states and regions who disclosed, making CDP’s platform one of the richest sources of information globally on how companies and governments are driving environmental change. CDP, formerly Carbon Disclosure Project, is a founding member of the We Mean Business Coalition. https://cdp.net/en/cities or follow us @CDP to find out more.
About science-based targets for cities
Science-based climate targets for cities is led by the Science-Based Targets Network’s core ‘cities’ partners: CDP, C40, GCoM, ICLEI, the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF). The partners have come together to provide a guide to help cities select a methodology to set a science-based climate target, launching on November 18th.All Press Releases