- Subnational climate action is beginning to rebound following a brief slump post the COVID-19 pandemic. As of March 2023, more than 3,000 cities and 175 subnational states and regions, accounting for 26.5% of the global total population, have pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. This number represents an increase in the number of cities and regions pledging quantifiable emission reduction targets compared to 2022.
- While more cities and regions are reporting needed data to evaluate progress towards their own declared mitigation targets, the overall picture of implementation remains weak with less than 40% of total subnational governments on track.
- Cities and regions need an average annual reduction of nearly 3% to acheive their emission reduction targets with an average remaining time of 17 years. The median reduction is, however, only 1.6% per year. They will need to double climate action efforts to stay on track.
- To align their targets with 1.5oC-climate scenarios, cities and regions would need to increase the overall ambition of current efforts by 2.5 times. On-track targets are achieving a median annual emission reduction of 3.6% per year, falling short of the required 4% per year needed for 1.5oC goals. Less than one-fifth of cities and regions meet this threshold.
Dubai, December 6th, 2023 – On the day of the COP28 climate negotiations where the efforts of cities, local and regional governments are being highlighted, a new report by the Data-Driven EnviroLab shows a more sobering picture of the work ahead. Evaluating just over 1,200 cities and 108 regions in G20 countries with sufficiently reported data and targets to curb their emissions, the report finds that less than 40 percent are on track to achieve their goals, which aim for completion between the end of this year to 2060.
To correct course and get on track, cities and regions have an average remaining time of 17 years to reduce emissions by nearly 3% per year. Currently, however, they are only reducing emissions by a median 1.6% per year, indicating they will need to double their efforts to meet their emissions reduction goals on time.
“While subnational pledges in G20 countries have surged post-COVID-19, implementation lags. We also see gaps in cities and regions reporting adequate data, or any at all, to track their progress. Particularly absent are greenhouse gas emissions inventories from cities and regions in the Global South, which are urbanizing quickly,” said Kaihui Song, a post-doctoral research associate at the Data-Driven EnviroLab and one of the report authors.
With the window narrowing for decisive climate action within this decade, which requires a halving of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 to keep the 1.5oC goal within reach, the report also finds differences in performance with respect to various time frames within which cities and regions have pledged targets. Most cities and regions have targets between 7 and 16 years from now, but only 30% of these are on track. Short-term targets within the next 6 years are performing the most poorly, with less than 1% on track. Long-term targets fair somewhat better, with 37% making sufficient progress to stay on track.
“Even though the picture of progress is mixed, it is always encouraging to see some subnational governments making progress towards their targets and some even meeting them early. I was really impressed by Italy, which has a high number of actors both reporting and on track, especially since many of these actors are smaller cities, towns, and communes,” said Katherine Burley, a PhD student at the Data-Driven EnviroLab who co-authored the report.
With the scientific goalposts for 1.5oC clear, the report finds a disconnect between pledge ambition and the pace required, even for those cities and regions on track to achieve their goals. In fact, less than one-fifth of cities and regions on track to meet their self-declared targets are making efforts aligned with 1.5oC. Those on-track are still only reducing emissions around 3.6% per year, falling short of the nearly 4% annual reductions needed for 1.5oC.
“This last finding illustrates the need for cities and regions to dig deeper and raise the bar for their climate actions. With cities being some of the most climate-affected areas in the world, they can’t afford a wait and see game. The imperative for immediate ambitious action could not be more clear, and COP28 provides the perfect opportunity for cities to start conversations about what’s working and where struggles lie,” said Angel Hsu, Director of the Data-Driven EnviroLab and one of the report authors.
The report can be downloaded from the Data-Driven EnviroLab’s website at www.datadrivenlab.org/publications.
Contact: Ella Feathers (firstname.lastname@example.org)