The Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) reports that on March 27, 2015, mayors of 17 international cities across nine nations launched the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance. This new group is a collaboration of global cities committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050 or sooner—the most ambitious GHG emission reduction targets undertaken by any cities across the globe.
Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance cities are:
Minneapolis, MN, USA
Boston, MA, USA
New York City, NY, USA
Boulder, CO, USA
Portland, OR, USA
Washington DC, USA
London, United Kingdom
San Francisco, CA, USA
Seattle, WA, USA
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global average temperature increases must be kept below 2 degrees Celsius to avoid serious ecosystem disruption and grave human health impacts. Because urban areas account for nearly three-quarters of humanity’s emissions, minimizing global temperature changes will require cities to reduce GHGs by at least 80% below 2000 levels by 2050.
The Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance is governed by a Steering Committee of Alliance cities, and staffed by the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) in partnership with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) and Innovation Network for Communities (INC). The Alliance’s work is supported by the Kresge Foundation, Barr Foundation, V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Summit Foundation.
“New York City became the largest city in the world to commit to an 80% reduction in GHGs by 2050 because we know climate change poses nothing short of an existential threat to our people and our planet—and it requires all of us to reimagine how we run our cities,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. “By partnering with other leading cities, we’ll be able to meet our respective goals faster and more effectively, and take another key step forward in reducing our contributions to climate change.”
“Great world cities like London are proving that it is possible to reduce carbon emissions at the same time as an increase in population and economic growth, and they are proving that they can support thriving low carbon economies,” said Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. “But meeting a whopping eighty per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 will need greater technological innovation, greater investment and greater co-operation. That is why this Alliance, which will allow great cities to share their expertise is so valuable. It has the potential to speed up environmental improvements and improve the quality of life for everyone.”
“We are very pleased to be working with the vanguard cities that make up the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance,” said Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi. “Yokohama’s own pioneering activities include extensive citizen participation in reducing waste, the promotion of ‘smart city’ concepts, and the introduction of next-generation transportation systems. Hand in hand with other member cities, we will strive to create vibrant, vigorous, carbon-neutral communities.”
“The City of Melbourne is committed to becoming a carbon neutral city, and has a target of zero net emissions by 2020,” said Robert Doyle, Lord Mayor of Melbourne. “This Alliance will support us to work through the challenges involved in reaching our ambitious target. I commend USDN, C40 and INC for establishing this initiative and we are pleased to join other cities leading global efforts to reduce carbon emissions.”
The idea for the Alliance came out of a meeting of the 17 cities in Copenhagen in June 2014. “In Copenhagen we have set the very ambitious goal of being 100 percent carbon neutral by 2025 and we are well underway with our implementation,” said Frank Jensen, Lord Mayor of Copenhagen. “By sharing our best ideas and solutions with other leading cities, we can go from great solutions locally to brilliant advances globally.”
“Cities are at the forefront of reducing climate pollution and we need to aggressively develop new technologies and drive the shift to becoming carbon neutral around the world,” said Gregor Robertson, Mayor of Vancouver, where the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance will hold its next annual meeting in May 2015. “In Vancouver, our GHGs are dropping while our population and economy grow—and partnering with our Alliance cities means we will accelerate that important progress.”