As COP26 - one of the most important climate conferences in history - ended, a new generation of cities leading from the front on climate change emerged. 95 cities (up from 88 cities in 2020) are named on this year’s A List as bold leaders in environmental transparency and action, with almost half (46 cities) being new for 2021.
Spanning every continent, the cities stretch from Canada to Japan; South Africa to New Zealand. However, with a combined population of 108 million, A List cities represent only a tiny proportion of the 4.2 billion people who live in cities worldwide. This highlights the urgent need for more cities to raise their climate ambition post-COP26, for those who live and work within them.
To score an A, among other actions, a city must disclose publicly and have a city-wide emissions inventory, have set an emissions reduction target and a renewable energy target for the future; and have published a climate action plan. An A List city must also complete a climate risk and vulnerability assessment and have a climate adaptation plan to demonstrate how it will tackle climate hazards. And it must be making progress towards achieving its ambitious but realistic goals.
A List cities are demonstrating their climate leadership through concerted and effective action, just as national governments were asked to do at COP26. They report taking roughly twice as many mitigation and adaptation measures as non-A List cities, and also identify more than twice as many opportunities - such as the development of sustainable transport and clean technology sectors - arising from the shift to a net-zero world.
Clear and swift momentum in disclosure and action is building - for the first time, over 1,000 cities are reporting their environmental impact through the CDP-ICLEI Unified Reporting System in 2021.
Meanwhile, 965 cities received a score from CDP in 2021, a 63% rise on the 591 scored in 2020. This increase is due to a range of factors, from more cities disclosing after the coronavirus pandemic to nearly 200 new Japanese cities reporting, thanks to a strategic collaboration between CDP and the Japanese Ministry of the Environment, coordinating efforts between the government and cities.