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21 U.S. Cities To Measure Carbon Emissions

August 10, 2008

New York City, Denver and Las Vegas are among 21 U.S. cities that will measure their carbon footprints in an effort to reduced climate-warming emissions.

The cities will employ the same system in use by some 1,300 companies.

“If you don’t measure these emissions, you cannot manage them,” said Paul Dickinson, CEO of UK- based Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), in an interview with Reuters.  The CDP, which represents 385 global institutional investors that together manage more than $57 trillion in assets, is working in co-operation with the cities and with ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability USA, an international association of local governments working on environmental issues.

Urban traffic, buildings and manufacturers are responsible for 70 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

As part of the initiative, each city will collect emissions data for their municipal functions, such as police and fire departments, government facilities and waste services, and will also measure emissions from the city as a whole.

“Working together, and with the best data, we can manage this problem,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.

The CDP has collected corporate emissions data through surveys for eight years, and says it maintains the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emissions database.  The organization also helps multinational organizations gather climate change data from their suppliers.   A CDP-sponsored survey earlier this year found that more than 20 of the world’s largest firms, including Nestle SA, IBM, and Tesco, with a combined purchasing power of about $1 trillion, had suppliers without greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Dickinson said that once the cities determine their most significant sources of emissions, energy-efficient companies should be brought in to find ways to save money and cut emissions by slowing the waste of fuel.

“The process should really lead to the beginnings of a fundamental restructuring of how cities consume energy,” he said.

Although it initially resisted revealing emissions levels through the CDP, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has since been commended for targeting their emission sources.

Dickinson said cities should now do the same.

“Cities compete in the market for business, investment, talent, all sorts of things, and finding ways to profit by tackling climate change can make them attractive,” he said.

The 21 cities will submit their data to CDP by October, and the results will be published in the CDP’s first cities report in January.

Other cities in the project include New Orleans, West Palm Beach and St. Paul, with at least nine more are expected to participate.   The CDP is working to expand the project to cities in other countries as well, Dickinson said.

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