To build resilience against the climate crisis while rapidly decarbonizing, protecting precious ecosystems and empowering communities, we must mobilize an underutilized stakeholder in the global economy: public authorities.
North America’s 30,000+ public authorities go by many names: agencies, government-owned enterprises, crown corporations. They run critical systems used by millions of people each day – from airports and seaports, to housing and public transit, to water and power utilities. But they have a profound environmental impact, from the purchasing decisions they make from suppliers, to GHG emissions and local water pollution. And as storms, wildfires and other climate change impacts become more severe and frequent, these vital systems are increasingly under threat.
How will public authorities mitigate their environmental impact and seize valuable sustainability opportunities while continuing to provide essential services for all communities across the country – despite worsening climate change?
Disclosure is a preparedness tool that enables progress on environmental issues. It helps public authorities manage climate impacts, uncover risks and opportunities and allows them to benchmark against peers. In 2022, CDP launched a new environmental disclosure model tailored specifically for public authorities. This includes a pilot annual questionnaire.
Clear, consistent and detailed data is crucial for regulators, investors, businesses and consumers to understand these authorities’ environmental risk exposure and their direct and indirect contributions to the climate crisis. CDP produces useful insights based on this data that point out trends, successes and acceleration still needed.
“CDP disclosure helps us align our climate change mitigation practices with global best practices, as well as understand the internal processes needed to strengthen and institutionalize the Agency’s long-term success in responding to climate change.”Christine Weydig, Director of the Office of Environmental and Energy Programs at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey
Public authorities are increasingly striving to manage environmental risks. Many are seeking financing for capital-intensive sustainability projects which, when implemented with an intentional equity focus, often directly benefit and empower historically marginalized communities and have immediate and long-term social impacts, such as reducing air pollution in majority-BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) neighborhoods.
But we must move faster and be bolder.
Fortifying our critical infrastructure systems can help cities and states withstand extreme weather caused by climate change, as well as create jobs, enhance social equity and drive economic development in their regions.
CDP’s public authorities disclosure initiative will create engagement and transfer of information between investors and public agencies seeking capital. The overall goal is to enhance transparency that will promote effective and efficient flows of capital and equitable community investment – allowing the resilient, green cities and states of tomorrow to take shape today.