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Mayors of 17 international cities across nine nations launched the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance, 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.

Alliance cities are:

  • Berlin, Germany
  • Boston
  • Boulder, Colo.
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Minneapolis
  • New York City
  • Oslo, Norway
  • Portland, Ore.
  • San Francisco
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Vancouver, Canada
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Yokohama, Japan
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 percent 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 in partnership with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) and Innovation Network for Communities. 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 percent 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,” says 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,” says London Mayor Boris Johnson. “But meeting a whopping 80 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 will need greater technological innovation, greater investment and greater cooperation.”

“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,” says Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi.

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,” says 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,” says Gregor Robertson, Mayor of Vancouver, where the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance will hold its next annual meeting in May 2015.

Early alliance activities include:

  • Developing Carbon Neutrality Planning Standards: Developing approaches, analysis and tools to support cities striving for carbon neutrality, and standardizing measurement and verification methodologies for tracking progress.
  • Advancing “Transformative Change” in Key Urban Sectors: Sharing and implementing best practices for achieving “transformative” deep carbon reduction strategies in urban transportation, energy use and waste systems.
  • Advocating for Policy Change: Identifying and advocating for policies at the state, regional and federal levels to reduce emission sources not controlled directly by cities, and engaging with other external stakeholders, such as utility companies, who are critical to cities’ success.
  • Speaking With a Common Voice: Helping Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance cities demonstrate their leadership and communicate with a common voice.
  • Creating a CNCA “Innovation Fund”: Investing in high-potential, city-led projects that develop, test, implement and amplify deep de-carbonization strategies and practices (currently funded at $700,000).
  • Fostering a “Next Wave” of Carbon Neutral Cities: Sharing best practices and lessons learned with the “next wave” of cities preparing to adopt deep carbon reduction targets.
For contacts in any of the alliance cities or more information on the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance, visit carbonneutralcitiesalliance.org.

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