Reflections are only that, reflections, nothing more nothing less. Often these reflections are related to books I read, but occasionally also other things. These are often written very late, very fast,  using notes from my mobile phone, so the grammar and spelling is horrible.

Copenhagen Declaration for a Low Carbon City Development Index

The Copenmind Mindflow session that focused on creating a “low carbon city index” was a really dynamic and rewarding exercise. During two days a small group of people came together to get this “low carbon city” project off the ground. The focus was on China and India with key experts participating.

The fact that the meeting took place in Bella Center, the place where the big climate meeting will take place in 2009 I think added to the energy and focus of the work.

We now have a way forward and it will build on the declaration below, separate blog for the Chinese version. Updates will be posted soon.


Copenhagen Declaration for a Low Carbon City Development Index

For the first time in human history more than half of the world’s population now lives in cities. This has amongst other things created a strong demand for sustainable urban development across the globe. It has become evident that this need can not be met through traditional development as there is growing evidence of the adverse effects caused by the emission of greenhouse gases and intensive use of natural recourses to provide a high quality of life.

Therefore the cities of tomorrow must be fundamentally different than the cities of today in order to ensure sustainability. In this transition it is important to focus on service needed, not the ways they have been provided previously. For example, instead of only improving cars and roads the service of mobility and transportation should be in focus encourage smart solutions and IT-solutions that reduce the need of energy consuming trips and thereby also buildings.

This service perspective is especially important when we look at cities in regions like China and India where more than half of the world’s building will be build over the coming years and where more than 10 million people are moving into cities every year in China alone.

In order to ensure that economic development, a low carbon economy and a resource efficient development go hand in hand we should approach this transition as an opportunity.

A global approach to cities
As all cities are integrated parts of national, regional and global economies it is important not to view the transition to a low carbon city in isolation. Cities should be seen as living entities that through import and export interact with the rest of the world. No city can be seen as sustainable without considering the consequences of the import and export. With the need for low carbon solutions cities that provide these solutions are particularly important and sustainable import should be encouraged where possible.

A low carbon city development index
“What you can’t measure you can’t manage” is an old truth that also applies to cities. A low carbon index for cities would make it possible to measure the progress towards a low carbon society and support three important aspects of low carbon development
• Development of a low carbon city development policies, capturing the global impacts of the city
• Dialogue and exchange of best practice between cities around the world
• Comparison of various cities development paths and how far they are in the transformation from a carbon intensive city to a low carbon city

In order to achieve this, a commonly accepted global index that in a meaningful way can measure a city’s progress towards a low carbon future is needed. Several indices attempt to do this at the national level but no index exists at the global level, and none of the existing indices so far include import and export as relevant factors. The new “low carbon city development index” will address this gap through the development of a global index for low carbon cities and by identifying policy measures that efficiently foster and facilitate the above mentioned transition.

The index will be based on the concept of a carbon budget, accounting for equity a the ecological limits for the global CO2 emissions in order to avoid dangerous climate change, and will be divided into three different parts covering the effects from direct measures as well as measures related to export and import:

1. Indicators assessing the direct carbon emissions in the city
To which degree does the city directly contribute to increased or decreased carbon emissions and impact the environment?

2. Indicators assessing the carbon footprint from export
To which degree do products and services originating from the city result in increased or decreased carbon emissions and impact the environment impacts at place of consumption?

3. Indicators assessing the carbon footprint from import
To which degree do the city sources, materials and services contribute to increased or decreased carbon emissions and impact the environment at place of origin?

We, the undersigned, support the development of a low carbon city development index and will pay extra attention to the needs in emerging countries such as China and India. We will encourage all relevant stakeholders to support this effort.

John Kornerup Bang
Head of Globalization Programme, WWF Denmark

Tom Carnac
Programme Manager, Public Sector, Carbon Disclosure Project, UK

Rajendra Kumar
Senior District Collector, Tiruvallur District, India

Mr. Lei Hongpeng
Programme Officer, Climate Change and Energy Programme, WWF China

Christine Loh
Founder and CEO, Civic-Exchange, HongKong, China

Mr. Ma XueLu
Former Director General, Administration of Baoding National New and Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone

Jorgen Lund Madsen
Development Manager, Technical and Environmental Committee, Copenhagen City, Denmark

Dennis Pamlin
Global Policy Advisor, WWF Sweden

Mr. Pan Haixiao
Director, Transportation Planning Program Department of Urban Planning, College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Tongji University

Mr. Pan Jiahua
Executive Director, Research Centre for Urban Development and Environment (RCUDE), Chinese Academy of Social Sciences(CASS)

Peter Rathje
Managing Director, Project Zero, Denmark

Kaarin Taipale
Urban researcher and Chair, Marrakech Task Force for Sustainable Buildings and Construction, Helsinki School of Economics, Finland

UPDATE 19 September: Added picture from the Panel and this link to Environmental Finance:
Global Index