UBC cities continue as climate smart forerunners

UBC cities continue as climate smart forerunners

3 May 2019
Cover of the CDP report
2 November 2022

New report on UBC cities' environmental data disclosure to CDP highlights increased interest in resilience and growing ambition in climate mitigation and adaptation among the cities.

The newest report on climate change mitigation and adaptation actions that UBC cities are actively engaging in has been published. The report highlights the continuous climate smart approaches our forerunner cities are actively pursuing and the good practices they are sharing with other cities in the region as well as climate hazards to prepare against in the coming years. The water-related risks continue to be the most severe risks that cities across the globe foresee – mostly through water scarcity and water quality issues. The most pressing risks identified by the UBC cities were increased water scarcity, declining water quality and ageing water supply infrastructure. Cities across the Baltic Sea Region have started to notice how old water supply infrastructure could have different impacts - from water quality and public health to economic losses. 

In 2018, 28 UBC member cities disclosed their environmental data via CDP – among them were 10 cities who disclosed for the first time. The disclosing cities were Pärnu, Tartu and Sillamäe from Estonia; Espoo, Helsinki, Kemi, Lahti and Turku from Finland; Rostock and Greifswald from Germany; Liepaja, Riga and Jelgava from Latvia; Siauliai, Panevezys and Taurage from Lithuania; Kristiansand and Arendal from Norway; Gdynia and Gdansk from Poland; Malmö, Karlskrona, Örebro, Linköping, Växjö, Umeå, Trelleborg and Visby from Sweden.

The report revealed that more than half of the disclosing UBC cities have an action plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions whereas, globally, just 45% of the disclosing cities have an action plan for climate change mitigation activities. The nine major areas where emissions are currently cut (or planned to be cut) include: buildings, community-scale development, energy supply, finance and economic development, food and agriculture, mass transit, outdoor lighting, private transport and waste. UBC cities have started the climate change mitigation processes especially from the energy efficiency and retrofit measures and mostly focused on the construction/building and mobility sectors. Concrete good practices that cities have implemented in the fields of mobility and construction across the Baltic Sea Region is evident – the international cooperation projects in the region showcase climate smart leadership and innovating new sustainable solutions for our cities.

Around 40% of the UBC cities who disclosed to CDP reported that they are currently in progress of actively reducing emissions through different types of measures – in other words, actively creating change and pushing for a transition to carbon neutral societies. We can learn from the experiences of Turku, Lahti, Espoo, Panevezys, Siauliai, Tartu, Visby, Malmö, Linköping, Kemi and Karlskrona and follow their lead in climate smart actions.

Did you know that 64% of the disclosing UBC cities have a city-wide emissions inventory in place? For example, emissions inventories are in use in cities as diverse as Tartu, Karlskrona, Kristiansand, Helsinki, Turku and Riga among others. In the global context, this number is lower, averaging on 58%.

Positive trend is in inclusive policymaking as more and more cities are involving local stakeholders for climate adaptation planning processes – Arendal, Riga and Lahti are already involving the local stakeholders whereas Turku, Espoo and Helsinki intend to include stakeholders in planning processes in the future.

Lahti’s example includes involving the local stakeholders in the climate adaptation plan processes by organizing excessive workshops, public lectures and e-mail iteration rounds on the topic of climate change and local adaptation in 2018 and 2019.

We would like to call all UBC cities to provide as good quality data as possible regarding the responses to the CDP Cities Questionnaire 2019. Because of the shortened questionnaire responses from last year, it is possible that some of the good practices, experiences and actions have gone unaccounted for. The size of the cities and already existing practices for environmental data collection and analysis – as well as strategies – could influence how actively cities participate in the disclosing process, how much time they allocate on the questionnaire, do they involve other departments and experts in the local government to help filling in the Questionnaire or not etc. That is why we also call for cross-sectoral and cross-departmental cooperation in the city governments working with environmental data and strategies. Benchmarking the progress will then be easier the better quality data has been provided by the city. 

Furthermore, there is a visible correlation between the two facts that cities who champion ambitious targets aiming to reducing the GHG emission levels in their respective cities, are disclosing with more attention to details and good practices.