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Does Global Climate Policy Promote Low-Carbon Cities? Lessons Learnt From The CDM

Sippel, Maike and Michaelowa, Axel (2009): Does Global Climate Policy Promote Low-Carbon Cities? Lessons Learnt From The CDM. Published in: CIS Workings Paper Series No. 49 (November 2009)

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Abstract

An increasing proportion of greenhouse gas emissions is produced in urban areas in industrializing and developing countries. Recent research shows that per capita emissions in cities like Bangkok, Cape Town or Shanghai have already reached the level of cities like London, New York or Toronto. Large parts of the building stock and service infrastructure in cities in rapidly developing countries is built in the coming decade or two. Decisions taken in this sector today may therefore lock in a high emissions path. Based upon a survey of projects under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol, we find that only about 1% of CDM projects have been submitted by municipalities, mostly in the waste management sector. This low participation is probably due to a lack of technical know how to develop CDM projects and an absence of motivation due to the long project cycle and the limited “visibility” of the projects for the electorate. Projects in the buildings and transport sector are rare, mainly due to heavy methodological challenges. A case study of the city network ICLEI and its experience with cities’ participation in the CDM adds insights from the practitioner side. We conclude that CDM reforms may make it easier for municipalities to engage in the CDM, and that new forms of cooperation between municipalities and project developers, potentially facilitated by ICLEI, are required to help to realize the urban CDM potential.

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