10 cities take top honors for climate change leadership

Fri, 2014-09-26 06:00 -- Kevin Ebi

The City Climate Leadership Awards honored 10 worldwide cities for stepping up to tackle climate change. Sponsored by Council Associate Partner Siemens and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, the winners were selected from nearly 90 entries.

Taipei battles air pollution
Taipei won the Citizen’s Choice award for its program to reduce air pollution. Last year, there were just six days when air quality in the city was considered poor. A decade earlier, there were 68.

Taipei launched comprehensive efforts to reduce pollution. It expanded its mass transit system and adopted low-emission buses. However, it’s perhaps most proud of its public bike rental system, called YouBike. The rental service boasts the highest usage rate in the world, surpassing similar services in cities like Barcelona, London, New York, and Paris.

London tackles GHG emissions
London won two awards. It won for being the first city in the world to measure and report both direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions.

It won its second award for its New Taxi for London program. The program aims to completely eliminate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from taxis in Central London and to cut them by 75% elsewhere in the city. It has made progress toward that goal by getting the oldest taxis off the road. And by 2018, all new taxis must be emission-free. Already, five manufacturers have developed new taxis that meet the standard.

Shenzhen builds a zero-emission fleet
Another winner, Shenzhen, is doing with public vehicles what London is doing with taxis. It already has 6,000 zero-emissions vehicles in its fleet, the largest such fleet in the world. It plans to add another 35,000 over the next two years.

Buenos Aires cuts waste
Buenos Aires won an award for waste management. It plans to cut waste sent to landfills by 83% by 2017. So far, it’s already more than halfway to that goal. The city is separating types of waste where they’re generated and boosting recycling, recovery and valorization efforts. In addition to cutting waste, it says its work is also creating more jobs, helping its economy.

Melbourne doubles its tree canopy
Melbourne was honored for its efforts in planting 12,000 trees, doubling the size of its tree canopy. Some 7.6% of the city’s space is now green space, which is helping to cool the city. Combined with other initiatives, including reducing energy use, it hopes to cut temperatures in the city by 4°C.

Portland promotes 'complete neighborhoods'
Portland, Ore., is trying to reduce emissions by reducing the need to travel. The city won an award for its efforts to build what it calls “complete neighborhoods.” A complete neighborhood is one where the residents have safe and convenient access to all the goods they need for daily life. Nearly half of Portland’s residents live in a complete neighborhood now; the city wants to increase that to 80% by 2035.

NYC encourages energy efficient buildings
New York City was honored for its program that encourages energy-efficient building. The program is designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5% and reduce energy costs by $7 billion.

Seoul increases solar power
Seoul won a green energy award for its efforts to increase its use of solar power. It plans to use solar energy to completely replace the output of a nuclear power plant.

Barcelona runs smart infrastructure
Barcelona won the Intelligent City Infrastructure award. The city is now run on a single information and communications platform, allowing it to operate much more efficiently. It also publishes open data on the web.

Amsterdam fund supports sustainability
Finally, Amsterdam was honored for the Amsterdam Investment Fund, an investment pool worth more than $100 million to support sustainable energy projects. Already, it says those investments have helped it cut its emissions by 20% from its levels in the 1990s.

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