C40 Cities is Rallying for Sustainable Zero-Waste Cities Worldwide
October 12, 2018
In less than a decade, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group has positioned itself as one of the most effective organizations working to address climate change.
C40 Cities is a growing network of over 90 ‘megacities’ worldwide committed to tackling climate change. This organization operates under the assumption that “cities are where the future happens first” and has structured its plans for sustainability accordingly.
One of the greatest goals and challenges of C40 Cities is the development and enactment of plans for zero waste cities. Programs and policies implemented by C40 will show measurable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks in accordance with the Paris Agreement.
Abiding by the Paris Agreement
The Paris Agreement, signed in 2016 by members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), aims to keep the average global increase in temperature less than 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.
Under the Paris Agreement, each country must determine, plan, and regularly report on the measures it is undertaking to combat global warming.
C40 Cities is working to effectively enforce this agreement amongst its members. Cities partaking in the C40 movement have until the end of 2020 to develop and begin implementing their climate action plans consistent with the terms set out in the Paris Agreement.
These science-based climate action plans will put cities on the path to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and become emissions neutral by 2050.
Commitment to the Pillars of Sustainability
Members of the C40 Cities movement have ambitiously committed to achieving three pillars of sustainability within their cities: net zero carbon buildings, advancement towards zero waste, and green and healthy streets.
The official declarations for each of these commitments can be found here.
Net Zero Carbon Buildings
By 2030, C40 Cities will have all new buildings operate with net zero carbon emissions. By 2050, all buildings in these cities will operate with net zero carbon emissions.
Net zero carbon emissions, also referred to as carbon neutrality, means that all of the carbon produced by these buildings will be offset by an equivalent amount of carbon emissions being sequestered either within the premises or elsewhere.
Ideally, these net zero buildings will produce renewable energy equal to what they consume using zero-carbon sources such as solar panels or wind turbines installed on the premises.
Alternatively, building owners will have the option to purchase carbon offsets on the carbon trading market.
Advancement Towards Zero Waste
C40 Cities recognize the importance of transitioning to a circular economy (i.e. an economy that reduces, reuses, and recycles resources with minimum waste generation) from a linear economy fueled by disposables.
By 2030, these sustainable cities will decrease the amount of municipal solid waste sent to landfill and incineration by 50% compared to 2015. This will be achieved in part by increasing the amount of waste diverted from landfill by reusing, recycling, and composting.
When waste reduction goals are met, a complementary 15-20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions will also be realized.
Green and Healthy Streets
By 2025 all public transit in C40 Cities will be zero emissions. Leaders will encourage citizens to choose public transit, cycling, and walking as means of travel over private vehicles.
As an alternative to polluting vehicles, zero emissions vehicles for private use will be made available. Cities have pledged to collaborate with suppliers and dealerships to accelerate this transition.
Acting on Environmental Promises
C40 Cities will take bold action to implement new environmental policies. Members pledge to engage in frequent reporting to measure the progress being made toward their goals.
Significant indicators of progress will include the percentage of waste diverted from landfills compared to previous years, the number of fossil-fuel-powered vehicles replaced by zero emissions vehicles within each city, tonnes of greenhouse gases less produced each period compared to previous years, and amount of energy produced by renewable and sustainable sources compared to fossil fuels.
Followers of the movement can access these reports on the C40 Cities website as they become available.