Five years since Paris Agreement, CDP reveals global cities leading on environmental action
4 min read

Five years since Paris Agreement, CDP reveals global cities leading on environmental action

16th November, 2020, London: Global environmental non-profit CDP announces the 88 global cities*1  that continue to lead on environmental action and transparency during 2020, despite the pressures of tackling COVID-19. Cities on the list include Bristol (UK), Miami (USA), Cape Town (South Africa), Buenos Aires (Argentina), and Auckland (New Zealand).

  • Despite the coronavirus pandemic, 34% of cities are new to this year’s A List.
  • This year’s A List shows major progress since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015, demonstrating that impactful and urgent environmental action is possible:
  • Only 61% of cities on this year’s A List (54/88) disclosed their environmental data through CDP in 2015.
  • In 2015, half of the cities on the 2020 A list (44/88) did not report Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets. Today, they all report targets and 38% (33/88) aim to reach net zero emissions by 2050 or earlier.
  • All A List cities have also made progress on building resilience to climate change, reporting plans to adapt to climate impacts. In 2015, only 30% (26/88) of 2020 A List cities were reporting such plans.

The 88 cities on the 2020 CDP Cities A List have received the highest rating for both their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and build resilience to the impacts of climate change.  Together, they are setting an example of environmental action that we urgently need other cities and national governments to follow if emissions are to rapidly decline, to safeguard the planet, economy and citizens, and put us on the right track ahead of COP26.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, 34% of cities are new to this year’s A List. New leaders across the globe include Newcastle (United Kingdom), Louisville KY (USA), Firenze, (Italy), and Municipalidad de Peñalolén (Chile). These cities and others on the 2020 A List are working to become resilient, healthy, and prosperous places to live and work while cutting emissions and rapidly building resilience against the climate crisis. National governments too, from the United Kingdom to South Korea have been ramping up their environmental ambition, submitting new and renewed commitments to rapidly cut emissions ahead of COP26.

The USA accounts for the highest number (25) of cities on the A List, making up 28%, despite the US pulling out of the Paris Agreement. US Cities on the list include Park City, San Luis Obispo, and West Palm Beach.

The 2020 A List are also making headway on renewable energy targets, with 26 cities working to be powered by 100% renewables by 2050 or earlier. 8 cities, including Copenhagen, Stockholm and San Francisco have achieved 50% of more of their targets.

Designed to drive and support cities to ramp up their climate action and ambition, CDP’s A List is based on environmental data disclosed by hundreds of cities through the CDP-ICLEI Unified Reporting System in 2020.

To score an A, a city must disclose publicly and have a city-wide emissions inventory, have set an emissions reduction target, published a climate action plan. It must also complete a climate risk and vulnerability assessment and have completed a climate adaptation plan to demonstrate how it will tackle climate hazards now and, in the future, among other actions.

Continued need for urgent city environmental action

Five years since the Paris Agreement was signed, the latest climate science tells us that global emissions must be halved by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 to avoid catastrophic climate change. The cities on this year’s A List demonstrate that impactful and urgent action is possible. Although almost 40% of cities on this year’s A List did not disclose to CDP in 2015, they are now demonstrating leadership in transparency, building resilience against climate risks, and delivering against emissions reduction targets.

Analysis has shown that the number of 2020 A List cities reporting emissions reduction targets has more than doubled since 2015, with 38% of these cities setting net zero targets by 2050 or earlier. Cities have also made progress on building resilience to climate change. In 2015, only 30% of the 2020 A List cities reported having an adaptation plan. Actions taken by A List cities include community engagement and education, tree planting and creation of green space, and flood mapping.

Kyra Appleby, Global Director of Cities, States and Regions at CDP said:

“We commend the 88 cities on the CDP Cities A List for their transparency and action to build resilience against climate change and cut emissions. They are building resilient, healthy, and prosperous places to live and work while reinforcing their commitment to the Paris Agreement.”

“However, the science is clear – we categorically must halve global emissions by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2050 to limit the impacts of the climate crisis. The world is still in the midst of a public health crisis, but environmental action cannot slow down. The cities on the 2020 A list demonstrate resilience and ambition, and we congratulate them for their leadership in tackling climate change.”

The next step for cities

While there has been major progress, more needs to be done and by a greater number of cities. A significant next step is setting science-based targets to rapidly cut emissions in line with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 °C. Cities will be able to learn more about this and how to join the UNFCCC's Race To Zero campaign with the support of a guide on Science-based climate targets for cities, launching on 18th November.

The full A List of cities is published here.
To see all data reported by cities, visit CDP’s Open Data Portal here.

1 This data was collected in partnership by CDP and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability

Notes to Editors

For more information or interview requests please contact:

Devika Jina, Communications Manager – Cities, States, and Regions, CDP
07815 694200

Josh Hoppen – ESG

Publish your Press Releases

Interested in our free daily E-news