By Margaret McKenzie, Senior Associate, SCI CIDA Africa Program
COP17 is in its second week and there is increasing uncertainty about the possibility of clear agreements on global action to present climate change. The launch of the first annual report of the Cities Climate Registry at the COP17 precinct in Durban underlined that while there may not be global agreement, it is possible for cities to lead the way with local responses to climate change.
The report, produced by Carbonn, the Bonn centre for local climate action and reporting, summarises climate response information from the initial batch of 51 cities that have disclosed information on the Cities Climate Registry. The registry provides an opportunity for cities to record their climate change responses in three key areas:
1. Reporting of Green House Gas Inventories
2. Commitments to reductions in Green House Gases
3. Actions to reduce Green House Gas emissions
Together the fifty-one reporting cities have represented 81 million inhabitants in 19 different countries. On an annual basis the cities have reported a total of 447 million tonnes of carbon equivalent emissions. A total of 107 measurable commitments to reduce green house gas emissions were registered by the cities along 555 separate actions to respond to climate change.
One of the key issues highlighted by the report is that most city actions focus on technological investments and there are limited actions in the areas of legislation, capacity building and awareness raising. The Carbonn report encourages cities to increase actions in these areas as they can assist in making significant progress in GHG reductions and climate adaptation.
The cities that registered their information on the registry in the first year are highly diverse and include a number of cities in the Sustainable Cities International Network such as Durban, Calgary and Metro Vancouver. Over time it is expected that the number of reporting cities will increase and the quality of information will improve. From now onwards Carbonn plans to officially submit the Cities Climate Registry report to the UNFCCC COP on an annual basis to showcase the contribution of cities to climate change response efforts at a national and global level.