Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane? No, it’s Your City Government Representative


By Conor Rifle – head of the Carbon Disclosure Project’s Cities program.

When the next big natural disaster rolls through your city, you can scan the skies for Superman or one of his caped brethren. But in all likelihood, your salvation will come from someone on this earthly world: your local government.

City governments around the world are taking the threat of climate change seriously. Many are already taking steps behind the scenes to protect future generations from harm. That’s why the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) has released this infographic showcasing the efforts that city governments are taking to reduce the impact of climate change on their jurisdictions. Many of the city governments reporting to CDP are taking actions to reduce emissions and protect their citizens and businesses from the physical effects of climate change:

Caracas, Venezuela is increasing the capacity and maintenance of its storm drains to deal with increased rainfall. Seoul is investing in its mosquito control systems to reduce the spread of new contagious diseases. And Toronto is doubling the number of trees in its city to reduce the urban heat island effect. Overall, more than 90% of reporting cities said that their cities faced significant physical risks as a result of climate change.

(click the infographic to view it in full)

48 cities reported their climate change risks and opportunities to CDP last year, in a program run in partnership with C40 Cities. Now in its second year, CDP Cities provides a global system that enables cities around the world to voluntarily measure, disclose, and track their progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and managing climate change risk. Some 3,700 companies already report to CDP annually, including over 400 of the world’s largest 500 listed corporations.

Any city, regardless of size, can report to CDP. This year, cities have until 2 March 2012 to report. Responses will be made available to the public through cdproject.net and an analysis of the findings will be released in June 2012. For more information contact [email protected].

Superman image courtesy of Rooner on flickr

  • Toronto Bike Stuff

    Regarding Toronto’s goal to double its tree canopy, the new municipal government hired consultants to make recommendations about cutting expenditures. The consultants’ report suggested that the city “Consider reducing the target canopy cover or
    extending the target timeframe to achieve, allowing
    a lower rate of new tree planting and maintenance
    of existing trees.” These recommendations have been adopted in principle.

  • Anthony

    Toronto Bike Stuff is correct — the current Toronto administration is threatening a lot of the previous mayors green efforts. But many of of the former mayors environmental initiatives still remain. Among these is the Green Roof by-law, where a new development over a certain floor area is required to dedicate a certain percentage of its roof as a “green roof” — permeable treatments, grasses, gardens, etc. 

  • Julian

    Some interesting initiatives in the infographic but it’s striking how much of this is about dealing with effects rather than working to address causes. Is there any city anywhere that is properly valuing and accounting for ecosystem services in its financial planning and political decision-making?

  • Tom Murphy

    In 2007 Brooklyn had its first tornado in over a century.  Then we had another.
    I live in between where they struck and inflicted major damage to homes.  I asked our Office of Emergency Management what they learned and what we home-owners needed to do to be safer.  Their answer is not listed by you: Have lots of insurance.  Makes sense to me.  How did you miss it?