Globally, 23 pioneering cities and regions committed to significantly cut the amount of waste they generate, accelerating them on the path toward zero waste. By signing C40’s Advancing Towards Zero Waste Declaration, these cities and regions have pledged to cut the amount of waste generated by each citizen 15% by 2030, reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills and incineration by 50%, and increase the diversion rate to 70% by 2030.
Signatory cities and regions include Auckland, Catalonia, Copenhagen, Dubai, London, Milan, Montreal, Navarra, New York City, Newburyport, Paris, Philadelphia, Portland, Rotterdam, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Monica, Sydney, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Toronto, Vancouver and Washington, DC.
The 150 million citizens that live in the 23 cities and regions are accelerating the transition to a zero-waste future and will avoid the disposal of at least 87 million tons of waste by 2030.
Such bold commitments, made ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, are essential steps in delivering on the highest goals of the Paris Agreement and keeping global temperature rise below 1.5℃, says C40.
Worldwide waste generation is increasing faster than any other environmental pollutant, and action in this sector can have a much faster and greater impact in combating climate change, adds the organization. For instance, the 1.3 billion metric tonnes of annual worldwide food scraps sent to landfills each year decomposes into methane, which is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 and already accounts for 25% of current global warming. Transforming solid waste and material management systems globally could reduce global emissions by 20%.
That is why mayors of the world’s urban centers are accelerating the transition towards a zero-waste future. Mayors have committed to taking ambitious, measurable and inclusive actions to reduce municipal solid waste generation and improve materials management in their cities, both key to making urban centers cleaner, healthier, more resilient and inclusive. Better waste management can also create jobs and economic opportunities for social entrepreneurs and vulnerable communities.
The Advancing Towards Zero Waste Declaration is built on two bold commitments:
- Reducing the municipal solid waste generation per capita by at least 15% by 2030 compared to 2015; and
- Reducing the amount of municipal solid waste disposed to landfill and incineration by at least 50% by 2030 compared to 2015, and increasing the diversion rate away from landfill and incineration to at least 70% by 2030.
Specifically, signatory cities will implement such bold actions as:
- Reducing food losses and wasting of food at the retail and consumer levels by decreasing losses along production and supply chains, minimizing the production of surplus food, and facilitating safe food donation and by-products for feed production; and implementing source-separated collection for food scraps and other organics and treatment infrastructure that recovers nutrients, energy and contributes to the restoration of carbon storage capacity in soils.
- Supporting the implementation of local and regional policies, such as extended producer responsibility and sustainable procurement, to reduce or ban single-use and non-recyclable plastics and other materials, while also improving goods reparability and recyclability; and increasing reduction, reuse, recovery and recycling of construction and demolition materials.
- Increasing accessibility, awareness, scale and inclusivity of reduction, reutilization and recycling programs and policies for all communities and neighborhoods, investing in city wide communication and engagement efforts, offering resources in multiple languages, and ensuring benefits are distributed equitably across the city population.
- Publicly reporting every two years on the progress the cities are making towards these goals.
Leading up to the Global Climate Action Summit, C40 urged cities to step up their climate action and ambition — this announcement is one of the city commitments under that initiative. The high ambition Advancing Towards Zero Waste Declaration was developed by C40 and the city of San Francisco, in consultation with other C40 cities in the Waste to Resources network.
In addition, 19 pioneering mayors, representing 130 million urban citizens, committed to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions from their cities by ensuring that new buildings operate at net zero carbon by 2030. By signing the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Declaration, the leaders of Copenhagen, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Montreal, New York City, Newburyport, Paris, Portland, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Monica, Stockholm, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto, Tshwane, Vancouver and Washington, DC also pledged to ensure all buildings in the cities, old or new, will meet net-zero carbon standards by 2050.
“Net-Zero Buildings” use energy ultra-efficiently and meet any remaining energy needs from renewable sources. Such bold commitments, made ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, are essential steps in delivering on the highest goals of the Paris Agreement and keeping global temperature rise below 1.5℃, says C40.
Buildings in urban areas are one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and typically account for over half of a total city’s emissions on average. In London, Los Angeles and Paris, buildings account for well over 70% of the cities’ overall emissions, creating an enormous opportunity for progress on bringing emissions down. Currently, half a million people die prematurely each year due to outdoor air pollution caused by energy used in buildings.
Delivering on the commitments made today will require a united effort, as city governments do not have direct control over all the buildings in a city. This commitment includes a pledge to work together with state and regional governments and the private sector to drive this transformation, and calls on national governments for equal action. This pledge from cities is part of the World Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Building Commitment for Businesses, Cities, States and Regions.
Specifically, cities making this commitment will:
- Establish a roadmap for the commitment to reach net-zero-carbon buildings;
- Develop a suite of supporting incentives and programs;
- Report annually on progress towards meeting targets; and
- Evaluate the feasibility of reporting on emissions beyond operational carbon (such as refrigerants).
Furthermore, 13 cities, including Copenhagen, Johannesburg, Montreal, Newburyport, Paris, Portland, San Jose, Santa Monica, Stockholm, Sydney, Toronto, Tshwane and Vancouver commit to owning, occupying and developing only assets that are net-zero carbon by 2030. To achieve this, cities will:
- Evaluate the current energy demand and carbon emissions from their municipal buildings, and identify opportunities for reduction;
- Establish a roadmap for their commitment to reach net zero carbon municipal buildings;
- Report annually on progress towards meeting their targets; and
- Evaluate the feasibility of including emissions beyond operational carbon (such as refrigerants).
Leading up to the Global Climate Action Summit, C40 urged cities to step up their climate action and ambition — this announcement is one of the city commitments under that initiative.