Eleven cities from around the world were celebrated recently in Mexico City at the C40 Cities Awards for their commitment to innovation in the fight against climate change.
The eleven-year-old C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group brings together officials from 85 of the world’s great cities that collectively represent one-quarter of the global economy. The group’s focus is spurring urban initiatives that reduce greenhouse gas emissions while increasing the health, well-being, and economic opportunity of the more 650 million people who call those 85 cities home.
Sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies and Chinese green-tech developer BYD, the C40 Cities Awards recognized the “best and boldest” work being done by mayors to fight climate change and protect their constituents from climate risks.
“The winning projects show that great progress is being made on every continent, and they serve as an inspiration to other cities,” C40 President of the Board and U.N. Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change Michael R. Bloomberg said in a statement. “They also show how cities can help the world meet the ambitious goals set a year ago in Paris.”
A panel of former mayors and climate experts selected the ten cities that they felt had adopted the most ambitious and effective urban sustainability programs in the world – and C40 partnered with the Associated Press to capture images of each winning city’s projects, allowing you a sneak peek whether you live near one of them or not.
“Today, we celebrate some of the projects that are key to delivering on the world’s climate ambition and will help put us on a path to a carbon-safe future,” Chuanfu Wang, Chairman and President of BYD Co. Ltd, said at the awards ceremony. “We recognize the incredible human power and thoughtful consideration that goes into making these projects reality.”
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The city of Addis Ababa is a winner of the C40 Awards 2016 in the Transportation Category. The Addis Ababa Light Rail Transit (LRT) Project has improved the city’s public transport system and created more than 6,000 jobs. The cumulative emission reduction potential of the LRT system is forecasted at 1.8 million tCO2e by 2030.
The city of Copenhagen is a winner of the C40 Awards 2016 in the Adaptation in Action category. Copenhagen is threatened by sea level rise and heavy downpours. The Cloudburst Management Plan is an integrated system of green streets and pocket parks that will function as water retention areas and water basins. Thus it will not only deal with the risk of flooding – it is also an opportunity to create green growth, to increase the number of recreational areas across the city, and to improve the quality of life and increase health.
The city of Curitiba is a winner of the C40 Awards 2016 in the Sustainable Communities category. Since 1986, Curitiba’s Urban Agriculture Program has used empty public spaces to encourage communities to grow their own food. In addition to creating sustainable communities, the project reduces greenhouse gas emissions: directly through carbon sequestration in soil and biological nitrogen fixation by legumes and non-use of chemical nitrogen fertilizers; and indirectly by reducing food and waste transport distances, composting organic waste, reduction of “heat islands” and creating environmental awareness.
The city of Kolkata is a winner of the C40 Awards 2016 in the Solid Waste category. Kolkata’s climate change risks have been exacerbated by unsanitary disposal and waste dumping. Kolkata Solid Waste Management Improvement Project has achieved 60 to 80 percent (depending on site) segregation of waste at its source, with further waste segregation occurring at transfer stations. Looking forward, the project aims to eradicate open dumping and burning of waste and to limit the concentration of methane gas generated in landfill sites. Communities can produce more that 25 metric tons of compost a day, which is sold for $41 per ton and can thus generate around $1000 per day. The project will benefit more than a million people.
Melbourne & Sydney, Australia
The cities of Melbourne and Sydney are winners of the C40 Awards 2016 in the Building Energy Efficiency category. The CitySwitch Green Office program aims to overcome the knowledge and resource gap between building owners and tenants by prioritizing the reporting of fully auditable achievements, and encourages members to adopt an energy target of between 4-Star and 6-Star on the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS). The program has an overall target avoidance of 50,000 metric tons of new CO2e per year by its signatory businesses.
The city of Paris is a winner of the C40 Awards 2016 in the Adaptation Plans & Assessments category. The Paris Adaption Strategy is aimed at tackling climate change-related challenges including heatwaves, urban heat island effect, flooding and droughts. The program addresses other sustainability issues like air pollution and health-related risks, climate refugee challenges and water scarcity. It will see 20,000 trees planted, as well as the creation of 30 hectares of green spaces, 1 million square meters of green roofs and walls, and 20 green streets.
Portland, United States
The city of Portland is a winner of the C40 Awards 2016 in the Climate Action Plan & Inventories category. The overarching goal of Portland’s 2015 Climate Action Plan (CAP) is to deliver an integrated set of strategies by 2020 to keep Portland on a path to reduce GHG emissions 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. The proportion of citizens traveling primarily by public transport, cycling or walking is expected to rise to 50 percent, and the number of electric vehicles is set to increase four-fold to 8,000. The CAP aims to reduce energy use in existing buildings by 1.7 percent annually, resulting in an annual GHG emissions reduction of 280,000 metric tons in 2020.
Seoul, South Korea
The city of Seoul is a winner of the C40 Awards 2016 in the Social Equity category. The Energy Welfare Public Private Partnership (PPP) Programme aims to contribute to the city’s targets on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction while simultaneously reducing energy consumption and spending for low-income families. In 2015, Seoul financed energy retrofits for 1,295 households and aims to finance a further 1,050 households in 2016.
The city of Shenzhen is a winner of the C40 Awards 2016 in the Finance & Economic Development category. Shenzhen is one of the fastest growing cities in the world with a population of 15 million and an annual GDP growth rate of 10 percent. Implementing an Emissions Trading System (ETS) scheme carried many challenges, but Shenzhen has recruited 636 enterprises to partake into the scheme. In the initial 3-year period, those businesses showed a rapid reduction in carbon emissions while maintaining economic growth. Green low carbon development of the city is now possible thanks to uncoupling GDP potential from GHG emissions.
The city of Yokohama is a winner of the C40 Awards 2016 in the Clean Energy Category. The Yokohama Smart City Project uses Smart Grid technology and solar panels to help cut energy consumption in homes and businesses by between 15 and 22 percent (Yokohama aims to reduce its CO2 emissions by 80 percent by 2050). The project is designed to engage citizens and stakeholders as a key factor of successful implementation.