As per the estimation deduced by scientists, global greenhouse gas emissions must fall by 2020. This is critical if the world wants the global temperature to stop rising to 1.5°C.
Fortunately, a recent report released by C40 discovered 30 of megacities in the world that have reached the milestone. These smart cities are home to 58 million people, in total. As published by SmartCitiesWorld, these 30 cities are: Austin, Athens, Barcelona, Boston, Berlin, Chicago, Copenhagen, Heidelberg, London, Lisbon, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Madrid, Milan, Montréal, New Orleans, New York City, Paris, Oslo, Philadelphia, Portland, Rome, San Francisco, Stockholm, Sydney, Toronto, Vancouver, Venice, Washington, D.C. and Warsaw.
Going with a statement released by C40 Programme Director, Michael Doust, these C40 cities have shown emission reduction over a five-year period or longer. In addition, they have achieved a minimum 10% reduction compared to peak emissions.
But is that enough to reach the global target? What if a lot of regions are lagging? For three consecutive years, global carbon emissions have been increasing. 1.7 % rise was recorded in 2017 and a 2.7% increase in 2018. And it is calculated that 2019 will be among the highest on record. In fact, the past four years (since the Paris Agreement) were the hottest with 2019 set to make it five.
That said, the analysis also suggests that if smart cities take quick action (now) will be able to curb the emissions within 12 years. They will be able to keep the temperature to 1.5°C or perhaps, 2°C.
Climate Action Tracker (CAT) is keeping an eye on global climate action since 2009. It has gathered data of about 80% of the global emissions and nearly 70% of the global population. According to its analysis, some regions are barely trying while others are doing their best. It has categorised countries that show how likely are they to achieve the Paris commitment. The names are listed in the end.
Google’s Free Tool To Measure, Plan & Reduce Emissions
In September 2018, Google launched a free tool called Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE) to help cities map their emissions. The tool was designed in partnership with the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM0).
The free tool acts as a data centre working in real-time. It analyses Google’s mapping data to provide estimates of activity, emissions and reductions. This can enable decision-makers to estimate their city carbon emissions and develop plans based on it – and act. It also helps in measuring progress.
All the more, the tool provides detailed information regarding emissions from different areas of the city. It provides statistics on building emissions, transportation emissions and potential of renewable energy in a particular city.
Initially, the tool began with the beta stage in cities including Melbourne (Australia), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Victoria (Canada) Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) and Mountain View (California) where Google’s global headquarter is located.
Now, for the first time, EIE has been made available in Europe. Dublin, Birmingham and Manchester are the first three cities to gain access to EIE. Wolverhampton and Coventry will soon be able to gain access as well, as per reports.
In Dublin, the city planners are using EIE insights to inform smart transit programmes. This goes with the aim to reduce emissions and increase the use of cleaner modes of transportation. Furthermore, Google is working on making street-level air quality data available. This is a part of the new division called EIE labs.
Google is beginning the work in Copenhagen in collaboration with the City of Copenhagen and scientists at Utrecht University. It will make use of data from Project Air View which equips Google Street View vehicles with tools to measure air quality at street level.
The C40 Knowledge Hub
C40 recently launched its online platform called ‘C40 Knowledge Hub’ in March 2019. The platform gathers insights, practical know-how and tested climate approaches from the smart cities across the globe.
It provides data on air quality, clean energy initiatives and sustainable action towards a circular economy. What can cities do to reduce food waste? How transport system can become more efficient? There are innumerable answers to such issues cities are facing.
It provides resources that can help solution providers in cities to create climate action planning drawing knowledge of other cities.
In fact, the information given on each initiative that acts against reducing carbon emissions has been described in detail. There are guides provided on implementation strategies that can be developed.
Different data is available in the form of tools, case studies, research studies, courses and webinars and videos. While C40 is helping here, a lot of cities as part of the C40 network are showing commendable strides in fighting climate change.
Climate Action Tracker (CAT) Report
As discussed in the beginning, CAT has categorised countries as per their performance in reducing carbon emissions. We have listed the names of few nations as per the report.
The categories are defined as follows:
Critically Insufficient – USA, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey have been listed in this category. While Trump’s administration in the US is showing hostility towards climate action Russia’s commitment to the Paris Agreement is weak. Saudi Arabia is showing a slow shift away from fossil fuels and Ukraine’s greenhouse gas emissions are increasing. Turkey is one of the two G20 countries who have not ratified the Paris Agreement.
Highly Insufficient – Argentina, South Africa, China, Indonesia and Japan have been listed here considering their achievements towards reaching the target. Although China is on the road to meet its Paris targets, CAT shows that its targets are not enough to stop the temperature from rising to 2°C. Japan, on the other hand, could be in a better position to lead in the global climate action 2019. However, recent policy developments imply it is slowing down.
Insufficient – Brazil, Canada, Australia, Kazakhstan, Mexico and the European Union (EU) are placed here. EU is one of the early adopters of climate action. It already has set targets to reduce GHG emissions by 20% in 2020 and 40% by 2030. But as per CAT, EU is the third-largest emitter of CO2 after China and US which may act as a barrier in reaching the target.
2°C Compatible – Ethiopia and India fall under this category. India has risen to be a global leader in renewable energy. The country’s goal to produce 40% of power through green energy by 2030 is being achieved rapidly. And if it abandons plans to construct new coal-fired power plants it will move beyond in limiting temperature to 1.5°C. Ethiopia will concentrate on the forestry sector and is expected to increase power production through hydropower schemes.
1.5°C Paris Agreement Compatible – None of the countries have been listed in this category. However, Costa Rica, Gambia and India show a promising change in the coming years.
Role Model – Morocco is one of the only two countries that have achieved the highest rating in the CAT analysis. The nation is showing positive efforts in achieving the Paris Agreement commitment on time. Its National Energy Strategy is set to produce 42% of the electricity from renewable energy by 2020.