A number of emblematic cities worldwide have pledged to ensure that new buildings operate at net zero carbon by 2030 and all buildings by 2050.
Published by the international organization C40 as a joint declaration on August 23rd of this year, it will apply to 19 metropolises including Paris, Tokyo, New York, London, and Johannesburg. It states that a roadmap will be established that will hold cities accountable for their progress. Although the declaration does not yet outline common programs and incentives to reach these targets, it does lay the groundwork for cities to begin developing them.
It is worth noting this initiative because buildings account for a significant share of energy use and CO2 emissions globally, especially for heating. However, the targeted deadline remains relatively far (especially for the more ambitious 2050 objective) and no clearly organized and collective plan has really been issued, while the issues at stake are challenging. For example, city offices do not have direct control over all the buildings within their jurisdictions and their initiatives can be limited by the lack of public money and national regulations. In addition, large cities represent only a part of urban areas and the 2030 focus on new buildings should not let us forget that current challenges are mainly related to the renovation of existing buildings. In a context where international negotiations over climate issues between States have become increasingly tense, cities are well-positioned to launch local initiatives that may have a long-term impact, and maybe suffer less from the ups and downs of international relations.
CO2 emissions per capita in a selection of cities that signed the pledge (2008)
Guillaume Emin, Project Manager - Sources: C40, Beyond Ratings, OECD