- Mayors from 19 cities signed the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Declaration on Thursday, a pledge to ensure new buildings operate at net-zero carbon by 2030, with all buildings following suit by 2050. The mayors have also pledged to "owning, occupying and developing only assets that are net-zero carbon in operation" by 2030.
- To meet this commitment, the mayors plan to establish roadmaps, develop a set of supporting incentives and programs, submit annual progress reports, and "evaluate the feasibility of reporting on emissions beyond operational carbon."
- The pledge was signed by the leaders of Copenhagen, Denmark; Johannesburg; London; Los Angeles; Montreal; New York City; Newburyport, MA; Paris; Portland, OR; San Francisco; San Jose, CA; Santa Monica, CA; Stockholm; Sydney; Tokyo; Toronto; Tshwane, South Africa; Vancouver and Washington, DC.
This declaration, an initiative of C40 Cities, precedes the Global Climate Action Summit, to take place on Sept. 12-14. At the summit, leaders from around the world will be encouraged to "Take Ambition to the Next Level" and collaborate on strategies for decreasing global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the next few decades.
While 2030 seems like a distant target for a city to ensure new buildings will be net-zero carbon, leaders will need to begin work immediately to ensure the target is met. Most structures take years to design and build, especially when prioritizing energy efficiency in the architecture, therefore establishing the aforementioned roadmaps will be key to get the ball rolling.
C40 notes this effort will not come down to the individual cities, but will be a "united effort," as "city governments do not have direct control over all the buildings in a city." Mayors and city planners will need to collaborate with other levels of government, as well as the private sector, to see these changes through and truly transform a city's energy usage.
This could be a challenge though, especially as local governments in the U.S. have struggled to see eye-to-eye with the federal government on climate efforts. Most recently, the US Conference of Mayors pushed back on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) plan to replace the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) with a less stringent carbon emissions rule for the power sector.