News - February 16, 2023

Underlining the importance of city-business collaboration to decarbonize cities

Written by WBCSD 4 min read

*This piece was initially included in the Solutions Guide for Cities, as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development's contribution*

Cities greatly impact the environment, but a typical city has direct control of only over 15-30% of the total emissions generated by its activities. That is why it is so crucial that cities' environmental objectives integrate the private sector: to coordinate, share knowledge, reduce risk, and tackle collective challenges together. 

Even with a climate action plan in place, it is unlikely that a city will meet its climate targets without the business community on board,  as a major part of its carbon footprint is beyond the control of the city administration itself. Hence, a city must collaborate with its key stakeholders toward a shared vision. 

By engaging the private sector early and consistently, it becomes possible to coordinate actions within the city and benefit from the assets and knowledge of each actor.

It can also be beneficial for businesses to engage with other private sector stakeholders actors instead of acting in isolation. Programs such as the City-Business Climate Alliance (CBCA), led by WBCSD, CDP and C40, open doors for dialogue and sharing of plans and best practices. City-business collaboration is also important from a technological and implementation perspective, as the business community has the critical know-how, innovative thinking, and momentum to accelerate the transition to sustainability. Businesses can share solutions that they have implemented, contributing to a learning environment, and reducing risks for all entities involved.

The case of Manchester, UK

The Manchester Climate Change Partnership was established in 2018 and brings together organizations from across the city’s public, private, health, culture and academic sectors that share the common goal of helping Manchester to limit its greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience to a changing climate. Leading companies are working together to help the city develop a roadmap to net-zero carbon new buildings in Manchester. This will be integrated into the city’s Local Plan, due to be issued in 2023.

The case of New York City, U.S.

New York City collaborates with the business and real estate communities through the New York Carbon Challenge. It is a voluntary public-private partnership between the Mayor’s Office of Climate & Environmental Justice and leaders in the real estate community who have committed to decarbonizing their properties by 30% or more within ten years. By 2020, the program participants had reduced their buildings' emissions by almost 20% since 2007. By participating in the CBCA, the city could identify new members, share the experience with other leading cities, and provide practical tools and case studies to the participants. See the CBCA case study below.

Discover more, including other contributions by leading organisations in the Solutions Guide for Cities

Written by WBCSD on February 16, 2023

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