Editors: Michael Shank and Johanna Partin, CNCA
Research & Writing: Peter Plastrik and John Cleveland, Innovation Network for Communities
The Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance is releasing its Game Changers Report on September 12 as part of the Global Climate Action Summit (available here). The report highlights the key policies and practices that CNCA cities have found to be transformational in addressing their most pressing GHG emission challenges.
This year, CNCA identified seven promising, next-generation practices to share with other cities. They are Game Changers: impactful actions that can accelerate and amplify decarbonization in cities. This is what CNCA cities are doing and what is happening on the ground at the leading edge of city decarbonization practice. They are changing the game. And they are the next essential steps that many cities should consider on the pathway to carbon neutrality.
QUOTES BY OSLO & VANCOUVER MAYORS
“This report brilliantly turns the spotlight on climate action from leading cities around the globe. What all of these cities have in common is the call to action and the willingness to share and learn. CNCA cities forcefully demonstrate that working together is key to advance the climate agenda and for cities to prosper. With this report, I hope you find inspiration to act. I would encourage every mayor to join the growing movement of world-leading cities and take part in the amicable competition to deliver best practice in climate action.” – Raymond Johansen, Governing Mayor, City of Oslo, Norway
“In this report, CNCA identifies seven different areas of “game changing” policy and practice that will accelerate decarbonization in cities. Cities that are embracing these game changing opportunities are thriving and benefiting economically because they are clean, efficient cities where people want to live. City networks like CNCA are invaluable to Vancouver as we strive to meet our ambitious targets. And this report is an important tool for helping us get there.” – Gregor Robertson, Mayor, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
GAME CHANGERS AT A GLANCE
ADOPT A ZERO-EMISSIONS STANDARD FOR NEW BUILDINGS
This standard requires that proposed buildings in a city be designed and equipped so that all energy use in the building, on an annual basis — for heating, cooling, lighting, appliances, vehicle charging, etc. — is as efficient as possible and comes from renewable energy sources. This performance requirement is just starting to be adopted for new buildings, but it can also be applied to additions and alterations to existing buildings.
CNCA Example: Vancouver
BUILD A UBIQUITOUS ELECTRIC-VEHICLE CHARGING INFRASTRUCTURE
This infrastructure provides drivers of electric vehicles within a city with convenient, quick, and safe access to fairly-priced charging stations. Along with access to bio-fuels and hydrogen fueling, it is an essential element in building the clean-energy mobility systems that are emerging in cities.
CNCA Example: Oslo
MANDATE THE RECOVERY OF ORGANIC MATERIAL
This mandate requires the capture of organic material — including separation, collection, and processing — from residences, businesses, and institutions so that it is kept out of landfills where it generates GHG emissions. The organic material is recovered for use as carbon-capturing compost for farms and landscapes or as biogas for vehicles and industry.
CNCA Example: San Francisco
ELECTRIFY BUILDINGS’ HEATING AND COOLING SYSTEMS
This market-based effort by US cities involves partnering with manufacturers, distributors, utilities, and government agencies to decarbonize buildings’ heating and cooling systems by increasing the purchase and installation of high-efficiency heat pumps that use electricity that is increasingly powered by renewable sources. European cities with district-scale heating and cooling systems are replacing fossil fuel sources with various clean or renewable energy sources.
CNCA Examples: Boulder, New York City, Washington, DC
DESIGNATE CAR-FREE AND LOW-EMISSIONS VEHICLE ZONES
This designation establishes parts of a city — a street or road, a district or even larger zone — in which the use of vehicles has been prohibited or subjected to a fee. Bans and pricing can apply to all vehicles or only to fossil fuel vehicles, usually with exemptions for emergency and public transit vehicles.
CNCA Examples: Stockholm, London, Oslo
EMPOWER LOCAL PRODUCERS AND BUYERS OF RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY
This set of policies and investments empower local residents, businesses, city government, and others to produce or purchase renewable energy supply directly, rather than relying on their utility. This is accomplished by investing public funds and encouraging private investment in production of renewable energy, adopting renewable energy standards, organizing buyer coalitions, and advocating for changes in regulatory policies.
CNCA Examples: Washington, DC, Melbourne, Rio de Janeiro
SET A CITY CLIMATE BUDGET TO DRIVE DECARBONIZATION
The climate budget is a tool to convert a city’s climate goals into concrete, annual, measurable action. It establishes a maximum GHG emissions level for the budget year, based on the city’s emissions goal. The budget details the city’s proposed short-term, emissions-reduction actions to stay within the maximum amount, their projected impact, and cost. It is a distinct part of the city’s overall budget and moves through the city’s usual budgeting process, from proposal to adoption, implementation, and after-action assessment.
CNCA Example: Oslo
“In CNCA cities, life is getting better, cleaner, healthier and more efficient as we embrace a clean energy future, work to eliminate dirty emissions and put people — not fossil fuels — at the center of our economies. We are kicking carbon to the curb and prioritizing the physical and economic health of our people and communities. This is why cities must be — and will be — at the fore of climate action going forward.” – Johanna Partin, Director of the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance
The Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance (CNCA) is a collaboration of leading global cities working to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80-100% by 2050 or sooner — the most aggressive GHG reduction targets undertaken anywhere by any city. It is possible for cities to achieve their interim carbon reduction targets through incremental improvements to existing systems, but achieving carbon neutrality will require radical, transformative changes to core city systems. The Alliance aims to address what it will take for leading international cities to achieve these deep emissions reductions and how they can work together to meet their respective goals more efficiently and effectively.