Feb 19, 2020 - Energy & Environment

A small but growing number of cities are tackling climate change

Illustration of a skyscraper in a flower pot.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

13% of nearly 900 cities tracked by the nonprofit CDP get a top rating on climate change action — a fraction of the total population, but roughly double the number of cities on the organization's 2018 list.

Why it matters: Cities create more than 60% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions and consume 78% of the world’s energy. The 105 cities who received an "A" rating from CDP represent a combined population of 170 million.

Where it stands: Big cities in mostly developed parts of the world — including Europe, North America and Australia — dominate CDP's "A List" for taking steps to reduce heat-trapping emissions and adapt to a warmer planet.

  • Los Angeles, Boston, New York City, Baltimore, Mexico City, Toronto, Paris, Berlin, Cape Town and Athens are among those setting strict emissions reduction goals and seeking to adapt to climate hazards like flooding and heatwaves. See the full list here.
  • The U.S. has the most cities on CDP's "A List," followed by Canada and Sweden.

Yes, but: While these cities have set forward-looking goals like lowering carbon emissions by 2050 and using more renewable power for energy consumption, a lot of these actions haven't yet been executed. CDP scores cities on their intent to follow through, which is far from guaranteed.

The big picture: CDP, a London-based nonprofit that asks companies to record their environmental impact, only gave 43 cities an "A" rating in 2018. This year, that figure was bumped up to 105.

  • City-level action to mitigate the effects of climate change is important, but national and international collaboration to cut carbon emissions is even more crucial for sweeping change.

Go deeper: What your city's climate will be in 2080

Go deeper