The climate crisis presents a monumental challenge that no single company or city can confront on its own. With the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, we are seeing cities and states pursue sustainability projects in North America with renewed momentum. But it will take collaborative climate action between companies, governments and investors to urgently get these projects off the ground.
That’s why we launched our new Accelerator initiative, with the goal of speeding up climate action by driving partnerships between these organizations.
How can a city-business partnership help your organization?
Cities are on the frontline of the climate crisis. In 2020, environmental disasters in the U.S. cost US$95 billion in damages. And while 75% percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from cities, for many, these emissions are out of their own control. Plus, cities are up against operational barriers that have worsened during COVID-19; 25% of cities face budgetary capacity issues that impact their ability to address climate change.
The only way cities can drive action at scale is by collaborating with businesses and the community. By partnering with local companies, cities can reduce their GHG emissions and advance much-needed projects like water infrastructure development, fleet electrification and energy efficiency. Already, 76% of cities disclosing through CDP are either interested in or currently pursuing such collaborations.
Meanwhile, companies face the same risks and are pursuing similar goals. They must work with the local communities where they operate to support resilience and equity in the face of climate change, and ensure their employees are living in stable, thriving communities. They can reach their clean energy goals and targets faster if they collaborate with the city governments where they operate.
What do successful city-business partnerships look like?
The rapid growth in e-commerce has brought rising emissions and air pollution to communities across the country as more people shop online. This causes increased local truck traffic, higher emissions, congestion, waste and unsafe streets. These challenges are particularly felt in California’s Inland Empire where these “last mile” trucking facilities are located, and in the Greater Los Angeles region where many such deliveries are made.
To address this, the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator collaborated with the City of Santa Monica to partner with companies to launch the Santa Monica Zero Emissions Delivery Zone pilot. Within the zone, a busy one-mile area near the beach, drivers use green tech-driven solutions like e-bikes equipped with cargo holds to deliver food and parcels.
And over in Boston, the Boston Green Ribbon Commission has existed for more than 20 years and seeded multiple projects between business, institutional and civic leaders in the city. From pushing the city to adopt a flood zoning overlay district to advancing zero-waste policies, the City of Boston was an early adopter in pioneering organizational level efforts to accelerate climate action.
How can city-business partnerships accelerate environmental progress and drive social equity?
Historically marginalized communities bear the brunt of climate impacts. In less than 30 years, 70% of the global population will live in cities, which means city governments must pursue environmental solutions that are both sustainable and socially equitable, like expanding public infrastructure and electrifying transport. In support of local governments developing equitable climate infrastructure, CDP Matchmaker published the Making Climate Infrastructure Equitable toolkit as a guide to project design, implementation and finance.
Companies and investors, too, are increasingly looking for ways to enhance the positive social impact of the private sector. There has been a rise in ESG investing, with 76% of financial institutions seeing opportunities in offering sustainable finance products and services. Both companies and cities are pursuing policies like impact bonds and projects like energy efficiency retrofits that are meant to serve all communities.
What does CDP Accelerator do?
CDP Accelerator drives collaboration across sectors to further the progress of climate action and sustainable infrastructure. One Accelerator initiative, the Catalyze Cohort, brings together cities and companies that want to accelerate their partnership in climate action, providing them with training in project design and financing and an opportunity to network.
During the 2021 Catalyze Cohort programming, for example, Louisville Metro Government forged a new connection with Brown-Forman, a multi-national beverage company headquartered in the city. This established an avenue for potential collaboration between the city and the company on sustainable infrastructure.
Another focus of Accelerator is enhancing CDP’s partnership in the City Business Climate Alliance. Through the Alliance, CDP is assisting Dallas, New York, and Vancouver to advance partnerships with local businesses to accelerate climate action through collaboration.
What comes next?
Disclosure is crucial. If you don’t already, disclose through CDP to identify key environmental risks, opportunities and potential sustainability projects. This is a critical first step for governments and companies alike to understand areas for potential collaboration.
CDP Accelerator will be opening applications to the Catalyze Cohort for companies and local governments in March 2022. This year’s theme will focus on building energy efficiency projects and will cover topics including innovative financing mechanisms and strategies to address social equity in the built environment, such as barriers to sourcing and funding projects in underserved communities.
CDP is uniquely positioned to convene global actors – including companies, cities, states, regions and local communities – to build partnerships that will drive environmental action swiftly and equitably. By joining forces, we can rapidly decarbonize, protect precious ecosystems, drive a vibrant economy and advance social equity for all people.