Cities Are Central to Solving Climate Change, Says New Report

3 October 2005

As 20 of the world's most important cities gather in London today (Tues 4th Oct 2005) to discuss climate change at C20:The World Cities Leadership Summit, The Climate Group has released a comprehensive report on what key cities are doing to cut their emissions of the greenhouse gases (GHG). The publication looks in detail at 15 major cities that have taken a leadership role - what their GHG emissions are currently; what their targets are and examples on how they are delivering on these targets.

Representing both developed and developing countries, these cities' actions show that reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is possible - and economically beneficial.

The publication looks at: Barcelona, Beijing, Berlin, Cape Town, Chicago, Copenhagen, London, Melbourne, Paris, Mexico City, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Tokyo, and Toronto. The total carbon footprint for these cities is 483 million tonnes {CO2}e (carbon dioxide equivalent) per year, which equals about 1.8% of the global total.

"More than half of the world's population now lives in cities," said Dr Steve Howard, CEO of The Climate Group, "we are fast becoming an urban world and so cities must play a pivotal role in leading on climate change action if we are to combat this problem. We will not be able to solve climate change without cities taking a central role. The cities profiled in this report have already started down the road towards a low carbon economy. We hope that by sharing information on best practice and how actually to implement it, we will galvanise others to follow."

Deputy Mayor of London, Nicky Gavron said, "Cities as great polluters have a special responsibility to cut emissions and are in a unique position to deliver practical action on the ground. As the urgency of action increases, we need to build wider and stronger links across the world. That is why the Mayor and I are hosting the World Leadership Cities Climate Summit, to accelerate co-operation between cities committed to action."

For media enquiries please call Denise Meredith on +44 (0)208 288 0751 or +44 (0)7930 531128

Top line information from the CITIES PUBLICATION:


  • The cities included in the report are: Barcelona, Beijing, Berlin, Cape Town, Chicago, Copenhagen, London, Melbourne, Paris, Mexico City, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Tokyo, and Toronto
  • Total carbon footprint: 484 million tonnes {CO2}e = about 1.8% of global total. Source:
  • Total population represented: 65 million, slightly higher than UK population and slightly lower than that of Thailand. Source: 
  • Highest Footprint -- New York City - 72 million tonnes {CO2}e
  • Highest Reduction -- Seattle - by 2000, the city had reduced emissions from its operations 48% on 1990 levels
  • Highest Cost Saving -- Toronto - US$102 million in energy cost savings through building retrofits
  • Highest Target -- Melbourne - Zero net GHG emissions from City operations by 2020



  • Barcelona -- 'Solar Ordinance' obliging use of solar energy for hot tap-water consumption in 60% of all new and refurbished residential buildings.
  • Beijing -- By 2007 all of Beijing's coal-fired boilers will be retrofitted to use natural gas, and 90% of public buses and 70% of taxis will run on clean fuels.
  • Berlin -- 13.8% reduction in GHG emissions between 1990 and 2002 through building retrofits, fuel switching and use of renewables. Already 5MW of solar capacity installed.
  • Cape Town -- Target of sourcing 80% of energy from renewable energy sources and natural gas by 2050.
  • Chicago -- Potential savings of US$6 million per year through energy savings in City facilities and smart power purchasing.
  • Copenhagen -- Achieved 23% reduction in {CO2} emissions between 1990 and 2000.
  • London -- Created London Climate Agency with target to establish one zero-carbon development in every London borough by 2010. 19% reduction in traffic {CO2} emissions within the congestion zone by 2004 on 2003 levels.
  • Melbourne -- Goal of zero net GHG emissions by 2020 from city facilities. Achieved 16% reduction in community GHG emissions between 1996 and 2002.
  • Mexico City -- Target to replace 80,000 of the city's taxis with lower emission vehicles by 2006.
  • New York -- Between 1997 and 2003, 164 energy efficiency projects were completed with annual energy savings totalling US$14 million.
  • Paris -- By 2004, energy consumption in city facilities decreased 45% on 1985 levels.
  • San Francisco -- Voter-approved $100 million solar bond initiative in 2001. Annual energy cost saving of US$2.2 million through city-facility energy efficiency projects.
  • Seattle -- By 2000, the city had reduced GHG emissions from its operations 48% on 1990 levels.
  • Tokyo -- Target of reducing GHG emissions 6% below 1992 levels by 2010.
  • Toronto -- Achieved 42% reduction in GHG emissions in corporate facilities from 1990 to 1998. Commissioned North America's first urban wind turbine. Developed a deep lake water cooling project to air-condition downtown buildings.
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