Revealed: Which cities are the new climate ‘A-Listers’?

CDP has just published its 2022 Cities A-List, with more than four in 10 of the cities on the list being new additions for this year. Here, edie looks at the noteworthy new additions to the rankings, including locations in the UK, India and Brazil.

Revealed: Which cities are the new climate ‘A-Listers’?

Published on Thursday (17 November) to coincide with the solutions-themed day at COP27, the latest CDP Cities A List names a record 120 cities, town and regions as leaders in the face of the climate crisis. The NGO assesses efforts relating to climate mitigation (reducing emissions), climate adaptation and transparency and disclosure.

CDP has confirmed that it assigned a record 1,002 cities a climate grade this year, with 12% of them achieving an ‘A’ grade. More than four in ten of these locations were not on the list last year, with CDP highlighting a strong uptick in additions from the Global South and the Middle East. Promisingly, India has a city on the list for the first time ever – Mumbai. Brazil, Chile and the Philippines also have entries after missing out last year.

CDP’s global director of states, cities and regions, Maia Kutner, said: “This new wave of climate leaders includes a growing number of Global South cities in countries that are on the front line of climate change – many of which, from India to Cameroon, are on the A-List for the first time.

“The world, and its cities, need to go much further and faster in stepping up that action. Reporting environmental data is the first, crucial step to acting, as what gets measured, gets managed. This year’s A List shows the growing momentum in cities reporting their data and we hope that many more will join them in protecting our planet for future generations.”

Here in the UK, where edie is based, there are 19 places achieving an ‘A’ grade, up from 11 last year. Northern Ireland has been represented on the A List for the first time, with Belfast. The other new joiners are city authorities in Dundee, Enfield, Essex, Leeds, Richmond, Swale, Wandsworth, West Midlands and York. Bristol has sadly dropped off the A-List this time around, as have Bournemouth and Southend-on-Sea.

With all this in mind, this article rounds up key information on five of the noteworthy new locations on this year’s CDP CitiesA-List.

Mumbai, India

Mumbai joined the C40 Cities Network in 2020 and became the first Indian city to release a climate action plan back in March 2022. The action plan targets net-zero carbon emissions for 2050 – 20 years earlier than the deadline for the nation as a whole.

The Plan includes an array of new measures to improve climate adaptation and to cut emissions, crucially including targets in the short-term, medium-term and long-term. Key priorities include reaching 50% renewables in the electricity mix by 2030; opening a super-energy-efficient street as a testbed; accelerating the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) from 1% at present to 100% by 2050; improving flood defences; scaling rainwater harvesting; implementing nature-based solutions for urban cooling and greening, and improving waste management.

On this latter point, much waste generated in Mumbai is dumped or burned. The city will soon present a strategy for more sustainable decentralised waste management, including composting, recycling and energy-from-waste.

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Belfast is the first location in Northern Ireland to make CDP’s A-List. In late 2020, Belfast City Council unveiled a flagship new Resilience Strategy, listing climate alongside connectivity and supporting youth wellbeing as a priority focus area. The Strategy states that a failure to build a low-carbon economy and to build in climate resilience “could threaten safety and stability” in the coming years and decades.

At the same time, the Council developed a Climate Commission tasked with drawing up more detailed plans, including measures to reach net-zero in key sectors ahead of the UK’s overarching 2050 target. The key sectors are transport, buildings and heavy industry. Belfast is also striving to plant a million native trees by 2035. A likely date by which Belfast can become fully net-zero is due to be confirmed by the end of the year.

Just this week, Council members decided to trial a ‘Net-Zero Neighbourhood’ project in the Linen Quarter with funding support from the EU. The neighbourhood will be a test bed for improvements in energy efficiency, low-carbon heating and zero-emission transport.

Kadikoy, Turkey

After meeting a target to reduce energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by 20% between 2013 and 2020, the Municipality of Kadikoy, Istanbul, published a new climate adaptation plan and energy action plan in 2021. A headline target across both plans is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030.

The climate adaptation plan places much importance on growing green spaces to provide nature-based resilience. It notes that green spaces must not only grow in amount, but that distribution patterns and accessibility will need to be improved. Water management is another key topic, and the plan floats the idea of Kadikoy becoming a ‘sponge city’ by implementing resilient water harvesting systems.

Crucially, the plan notes that a poorly climate-adapted city will suffer from poor public health, with the likely cost of inaction set to far outweigh the cost of action in terms of socio-economic factors.

The energy action plan states that more than 64% of the city’s emissions are associated with energy – primarily due to energy use in buildings and industry. Key measures to cut these emissions include setting energy efficiency targets for public buildings and municipal services; developing a database of energy consumption in buildings; encouraging certifications for green buildings; setting minimum energy performance criteria for new buildings and encouraging onsite renewable generation.

Overall, the plan targets a 10% reduction in city-wide electricity use and a 40% energy-saving improvement from heating. Homes will largely need to end their use of coal and switch to alternative fuels. 56% of buildings will require some sort of insulation, and a further 14% will need a deep retrofit.

Rio De Janiero, Brazil

Rio is one of the longest-running participants in the ICLEI network, convening cities to accelerate climate efforts. It has been associated since 1993. It subsequently launched the Climate Secretariat – a new body responsible for advancing the climate plan for the region and doing so in collaboration with other relevant cities, regions and departments from the national government.

More recently, March 2022 saw Rio de Janiero announcing a new Sustainable Development and Climate Action plan, setting significant new targets for the medium-term (2030) and the long-term (2050). The headline pledge is carbon neutrality by 2050. Previously, the target was set at 2065.

The Climate Action plan runs alongside a Sustainable Development Plan, which mirrors the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Dipolog City, Philippines

Image: WWF

Diplog is the national winner of WWF’s One Planet City Challenge, which is hosted to showcase cities that are leading the way in showing that prosperous urban environments can operate within planetary boundaries.

It is working towards emissions reductions plans which it claims are science-based, in line with a 1.5C temperature trajectory. At the same time, it is increasing climate resilience plans and spending to prepare for a world warmer than this. Diplog notably collaborates internationally on these issues. At COP26, it signed, along with more than 790 other cities, the Cities Race to Zero campaign declaration, pledging to halve emissions this decade.

To see a map of all of the CDP A-List cities, plus their scores, click here.

To see all of edie’s COP27 content, click here.

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