Consumption-Based GHG Emissions of C40 Cities

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated by the world’s greatest cities are as much as 60% higher than currently estimated, when also accounting for the impact of trade in goods and services between cities and the rest of the world. New analysis by C40 Cities, the University of Leeds, University of New South Wales, and Arup examined the GHG emissions associated with goods and services consumed by residents of 79 C40 cities, including food, clothing, electronic equipment, air travel, delivery trucks and construction industries. The research found that almost two-thirds of these consumption-based emissions are generated in the supply chains of goods and services imported from regions outside cities. Whilst a city government may have little direct control over these emissions sources, they are released because of a city’s demand for goods and services for its citizens. This “sphere of impact” creates opportunities for mayors, city officials and urban citizens committed to urgent climate action to influence a higher percentage of the world’s GHG emissions. “By revealing the scale of emissions generated by the urban consumption of a range of everyday goods and services, including the food on supermarket shelves, air travel or online shopping and home delivery, consumers and policy makers can make better informed decisions about the impact their choices are having,” said Mark Watts, Executive Director, C40 Cities. “Mayors need accurate data and scientific advice in order to make good policy decisions. This new research will help city policy makers to better understand the true impact of their city on global climate change, and so play an ever bigger leadership role in delivering climate action.” The results of this study show that consumption-based GHG emissions of C40 cities are often significantly larger than the those calculated under alternative methods that focus primarily on GHG emissions taking place within the city boundary, such as the Global Protocol for Community-scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory (GPC) BASIC level reporting standard. This is particularly true for cities in Europe, North America and Oceania, reflecting both the higher levels of consumption in those cities, and the global nature of supply chains of the goods and services used by their citizens. 15 cities, mostly in Europe and North America, have consumption-based GHG emissions at least three times the size of their emissions calculated using the GPC.

Source: C40

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