C40 Initiative: Which Is the Greenest City of All?

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San Francisco, U.S.A. Image courtesy of C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.

A growing and forward thinking organisation called the C40 Initiative, promotes sustainable development for the world’s cities. C40 cities are conducting empirical research to perfect ways to lower CO2 levels and employ programmes such as ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’ within city government departments which are also promoted to city residents.

C40 cities today comprise 58 cities as of May, 2013. These cities represent 18 percent of global GDP and 1 in 12 people worldwide live in a C40 city.

Here are some featured C40 cities with links to their successes and challenges;

The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, USA. (Anthony Larson / Flickr)

San Francisco, United States

As one of the most sustainable cities in the U.S., San Francisco has plans to move to zero waste by 2020. The city currently recycles or composts 77% of its waste, the highest rate of any major U.S. city. For more information on San Francisco’s sustainability successes click on this link.

Sydney Harbor Opera House and skyline in Sydney, Australia. (Fuse / Getty)

Sydney, Australia

This Australian city has planned a large-scale scheme to have every resident be within a 250-metre walk of contiguous green links that connect to major city parks. To read more fascinating information on the Sydney story, click here.

Sunset over Westminster and Houses of Parliament, London, UK. (Anthony Beyga / Getty)

London, United Kingdom

London’s innovative congestion charging scheme has reduced vehicle numbers in the central business district by 70,000 per day, cutting CO2 emissions in central London by 15% since 2003. Read more about their impressive progress, here.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Travlr / Flickr)

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

This African metropolis is using low-carbon building designs in an enormous construction programme that is moving a large population from unplanned ‘shanty towns’ into more formal living arrangements. The Mayor of Addis Ababa has plans to lower the city’s CO2 emissions by 75% in 2020, as compared to 2010 levels.

View of Chao Phraya River in city of Bangkok.

Bangkok, Thailand

Highly threatened by climate change, including an increase in extreme weather and heatwaves, the city has introduced a number of ambitious local public health infrastructure and education programmes. Read more about the threat of having to relocate an entire city, due to rising (global) sea levels and a slowly sinking (local conditions) city.

While international negotiations continue to make incremental progress, C40 Cities are forging ahead. Collectively they have taken more than 4,700 actions to tackle climate change, and the will to do more is stronger than ever. As innovators and practitioners, our cities are at the forefront of this issue – arguably the greatest challenge of our time.” — NYC Mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg

Each city in the C40 is unique in its infrastructure and progress in addressing climate change. C40 works to empower cities to connect with each other and share technical expertise on best practices. – C40 Cities

Strong advocates for the role of cities in addressing climate change.

  • C40 was created in 2005 by former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, and forged a partnership in 2006 with the Cities Program of President Clinton’s Climate Initiative (CCI) to reduce carbon emissions and increase energy efficiency in large cities across the world. Under the leadership of then Mayor of Toronto David Miller, who served after Mayor Livingstone as C40 Chair, the organisation advanced programs and partnerships that drew international recognition for the role of cities as leaders in climate action.
  • The current chair of C40 is New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg who leads the C40 together with the steering committee and executive leadership team.
  • Learn more about the people leading the organisation.


All information, courtesy of C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.


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