London ranked among cities leading global climate action

London scored highly due to its ambitions and actions around air pollution

The ranking, known as the ‘A List’ for cities, scored 596 cities across the world on across the areas of sustainability disclosure, awareness, management and leadership. These factors were measured across CDP’s existing “essential criteria” – namely governance; hazards and adaptation; strategy and water; citywide emissions and local government emissions.

Of the cities, 43, or 7%, were awarded an “A” grade overall. They include Melbourne, The Hague and Reykjavik, which are targeting carbon-neutrality by 2020, 2030 and 2040 respectively; Calgary, which is building a new light rail system in a bid to cut the city’s annual emissions by 30,000 tonnes of CO2e by 2026; and London.

The English capital was ranked highly for the introduction of its Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in April, as well as for Mayor Sadiq Khan’s wider ambitions and actions around challenges such as low-carbon buildings and air pollution.  

Under the city’s current London Environment Strategy (LES), which sets out a sweeping range of sustainability goals through to 2050, Khan is aiming to achieve carbon-neutrality by mid-century. Steps to achieving this status include increasing London’s current solar PV capacity by 20 times by 2050, reducing CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020 against a 1990 baseline, and introducing zero-emissions zones in some town centres by 2020, five years ahead of the previous target, to assist businesses with the uptake of electric vehicles.

In order to receive an “A” grade from CDP, cities were required to demonstrate strong climate adaptation and mitigation strategies and to consistently track emissions. The body factored in the size of the cities, their carbon footprints and their respective susceptibilities to extreme weather events when compiling the rankings.

While praising those cities which received an “A” grade, CDP has expressed concerns that only a small proportion of cities worldwide are doing enough to manage, measure and tackle greenhouse gas emissions, or to adapt to climate-related risks including water security.

“Cities house more than half of the world’s population and are responsible for over 70% of the world’s energy-related carbon emissions, so they could make or break efforts to tackle climate change,” CDP’s global director for cities, states and regions Kyra Appleby said.

“Just 7% of cities who reported to CDP in 2018 received an A. We urge cities worldwide to step up their action, set targets in line with what the latest science says is needed to prevent dangerous climate change and transparently share their progress.”

The ranking, which is the first from CDP and will be updated annually, comes at a time when the UN is estimating that around 2.5 billion more people will be living in cities by 2050. This is also the date by which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has claimed that global carbon emissions will need to reach zero, if the global temperature increase is to be limited to 1.5C. 

Sarah George

Comments (1)

  1. Tim Beesley says:

    Ok, you might regard this as picky Sarah, but (and I think it’s an important "But") since when has London only been the capital of England? Even allowing for devolution and the creation of regional governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, London, surely it is still regarded as the United Kingdom’s capital?

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