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VIDEO: Carbon Emissions Are Dropping in 30 of the World’s Largest Cities

By Claudia Cardia and Maggie Fuller

05.20.20

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Carbon emissions are decreasing in 30 major cities around the world.

Image by Claudia Cardia

Carbon emissions are decreasing in 30 major cities around the world.

World of Good is a video series featuring feel-good stories that often get buried in our newsfeeds. In this episode, we look at a little something positive in climate news.

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Video transcription

Despite all the negative headlines about climate change, there is good news out there. In fact, carbon emissions have actually been dropping in 30 of the world’s largest cities—and many others are following in their footsteps.

These 30 trailblazers are members of the C40 Climate Leadership Group, a network of 96 megacities around the world dedicated to delivering on the 2016 Paris Agreement and keeping the global temperature from rising too high. According to the agreement, 2020 is the year that the increasing rate of global carbon emissions needs to peak—that is, it needs to start decreasing and fast.

And that’s exactly what’s happening in these C40 cities.

By sharing research and knowledge and partnering on sustainability projects, half of the network has already peaked its carbon emissions, and 30 of its biggest members, including Berlin, Los Angeles, London, Madrid, and Sydney, have reduced their rates by an average of 22 percent over the past 10 years.

You’ve probably seen some of the results if you’ve visited any of these destinations lately. There are now more than 66,000 electric buses on the streets of C40 cities. Eighty-two of these places now have bicycle hire programs, and 18 have banned or restricted single-use nonrecyclable plastics.

When it comes to climate change, 30 cities—or even 96 cities—may seem like just a drop in the bucket, but the C40 members are not the only places working to reduce carbon emissions. Over 10,000 cities big and small around the world have committed to doing so by 2050.

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And these days, such news is like a breath of fresh air.

Further reading

  • When the United States announced in 2017 that it would pull out of the Paris Agreement, it became increasingly important for cities, states, businesses, and other organizations to act on the country’s climate goals. An article in the Los Angeles Times looks at how, with effort, these sorts of city- and group-led actions might deliver results in the absence of a collective effort. 
  • It’s not just cities that are taking the climate into their own hands. The airline industry, long the scapegoat for travel’s carbon footprint, is making some serious headway on scaling back on emissions, making greater contributions to carbon offsets, and looking to minimize its environmental impact.

>>Next: What Travelers Can Do to Save the Planet