Aspen, Basel, CDP, Climate Change, Connected Cities, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Stokholm

What are the world’s cities doing to anticipate, mitigate and adapt to climate change in the run-up to the Conference of Parties in Paris later this year?

With over half the world’s population, two-thirds of the world’s energy consumption, and 80% of the world’s GDP, cities not only have direct influence over greenhouse gas emissions, but also face the greatest concentration of physical, social and economic risks associated with climate change.

CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project) is an international, not-for-profit organization providing a global system for companies and cities to measure, disclose, manage and share vital environmental information. This year, 308 cities have reported to CDP, with a focus on the mode of electricity generation – clean versus fossil fuel. Electricity generation is the single largest source of carbon emissions globally, generating 12.6 gigatons of CO2 (2015).

Analysis of the CDP 2015 data shows that of the participating cities, Latin American cities average 76% of their electricity from clean sources. European cities in the study average 59%. Participating cities in the Asia Pacific region collectively receive 15% of their electricity from non-fossil fuel sources. Overall, cities are making great strides in the shift away from fossil fuels toward the adoption of clean energy: with 35% of cities getting three quarters of their electricity from non-fossil fuel sources.

Cities leading the transition to a lower carbon model include Aspen, Basel, Santa Monica, San Francisco and Stockholm. All of these cities have targets for 100% non-fossil fuel electricity. Ninety-six cities are already taking actions to de-carbonize their energy supply. And these cities understand the business case for doing so: 86% of them say they see economic opportunities from efforts to tackle climate change.

A faster move away from fossil fuel dependency could be accelerated with more private sector support. Many cities cite a need for public finance to help realize their ambitions for low-carbon growth, and more than half of the projects seeking support are located in the developing world, mainly in Latin America and Africa.

The 2015 results from CDP’s cities program are released in an infographic hosted on, and city electricity generation mixes can be found here. The disclosures from all cities participating publicly in CDP’s cities program can be found here.

A look back at recent years’ reports:

2014 | 207 cities reported | The report spotlighted cities disclosing that climate change presents a physical risk to their businesses, and that this is serving as a driver for local governments to take action in response.

2013 | 110 cities reported | The report highlighted how climate change action is giving us healthier, wealthier cities. Cities reported annual energy savings of up to US$13 million, and their residents benefitting from healthier living and better business environments.

2012 | 73 cities reported | The report flagged that economic opportunity was a principal motivator for action on climate change.


ben smith crop

Ben Smith ( is director of sustainable development in AECOM’s London office and is part of the AECOM CDP team that has partnered with CDP since 2012, volunteering expertise to provide data analysis, communications and visualization techniques. AECOM’s full CDP team can be viewed here.

Originally published Sep 17, 2015

Author: Ben Smith