ICLEI Reports on Local Drivers of GHG Emissions Reductions
Photo by IISD | Lynn Wagner
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The report focuses on the drivers of local GHG emissions reductions in US communities, cities and counties to understand the interplay between climate action at local, state and national level.

ICLEI developed a replicable methodology allowing any city to track their GHG emissions that can be downloaded as a toolkit.

The analysis finds that many cities that track their GHG emissions have managed to offset growth with improved efficiency to create absolute emissions reductions.

12 September 2018: ICLEI- Local Governments for Sustainability USA released a report titled, ‘What’s Driving Changes in Local GHG Emissions? Results from Contribution Analysis,’ summarizing the major determinants of community-scale performance in GHG emissions reductions.

Launched during the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS), the publication focuses on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions in local communities, cities and counties in the US to understand the interplay between local, state and national action, as well as their contributions to national and global efforts to reduce emissions.

The report finds that many cities have managed to offset growth with improved efficiency to create some absolute reductions in emissions. Reductions are more evident in the presence of state and national policies that reduce the carbon intensity of energy and transportation.

Based on a technique named ‘Contribution Analysis,’ ICLEI developed a replicable method that allows any city, county or region to evaluate community-wide energy and GHG emissions performance attributable to local climate action. According to the authors, this enhanced view results in a deeper understanding of the actions that drive emissions changes, resulting in an ability to better prioritize future actions based on past performance. The method was applied in 15 pilot communities, six of which were participants in the US Department of Energy’s Cities Leading through Energy Analysis and Planning (Cities-LEAP) project. The report also includes an analysis of a limited set of factors applied to the GHG inventories of 138 communities with multiple benchmark years to observe these trends on a much wider scale.

Findings from this analysis include that:

  • Both a cleaner electric grid and energy efficiency are needed to achieve meaningful reductions in emissions from commercial and residential electricity;
  • State energy efficiency policies are an effective tool to reduce commercial energy usage;
  • Efficient vehicles and reduced vehicle miles are important to reduce emissions from on-road transportation; and
  • Reducing emissions from transportation is more challenging than reducing emission from power generation.

The authors conclude that cities that undertake efforts to reduce emissions can achieve tangible outcomes, especially if they act together with states and are supported by national policies and climate-friendly market forces. The results further show that cities that track GHG emissions managed to reconcile growth and emissions reductions by focusing on improving efficiency. The growing number of cities tracking GHG emissions as key indicator of community performance are therefore an encouraging sign. GHG inventories offer communities the opportunity to better understand the current level of emissions and why emissions occur at the levels observed.

Having good data on what impacts emissions will be critical for guiding more effective climate action.

Presenting the report at the GCAS, Mike Steinhoff, Tools and Technical Director, ICLEI USA stated that “cities regularly tracking and disclosing GHG emissions is beginning to build a dataset that allows us to ask new questions and think about performance in new ways. Having good data on what impacts emissions will be critical for guiding more effective climate action.

The report is part of a collaborative series from over 30 organizations released in support of the GCAS. The GCAS convened from 12-14 September 2018 in San Francisco, US. [ICLEI Press Release] [Publication: What’s Driving Changes in Local GHG Emissions? Results from Contribution Analysis] [Contribution Analysis Toolkit]


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