Finding Regional Consistency in GHG Accounting: The GLobal Covenant of Mayors and the GPC

Many of our municipal and county clients ask us to help them identify a community greenhouse (GHG) accounting approach that aligns with their peers and avoids double counting. Although there are a lot of resources, finding the right one can be tricky. Recently, a team of world leaders and international sustainability organizations got together to tackle this very problem. Drawing on extensive expertise in sustainability for local governments, the team formed the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy  (Covenant) agreement.

The Covenant is a global agreement between cities to combat climate change. It provides a systematic approach for mitigating and adapting to climate change and includes requirements for GHG accounting, GHG reporting, and the development of action plans that set ambitious, voluntary GHG emission reduction goals.

One of the major requirements of the Covenant is that all community GHG inventories follow the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventories (GPC). The GPC prescribes a standardized and transparent approach to collect GHG activity data, prepare inventories, and report GHG data. In this way, GPC is designed to help cities draw consistent inventory boundaries, prevent emission double counting, and provide a holistic inventory of all relevant GHG emissions. This is particularly important for a group of local cities that seek regional consistency.

Once GHG inventories and action plans are complete, Covenant members report their data to either the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) or Carbonn. The data is publicly available and allows interested parties to search for a city’s commitments and targets.

Since its launch in September 2014, the Covenant of Mayors has gained momentum and now boasts the largest voluntary membership base of cities in the world while encouraging coordination with the larger global community. According to ICLEI’s Executive Director, Angie Fyfe, more than 150 cities nationwide have signed on to the Global Covenant of Mayors Agreement. This number continues to increase as more and more communities look for a consistent and methodical GHG management approach.  Covenant members are nationally and globally recognized for their efforts and are exalted as global climate leaders.

We believe that this work is so important because population growth is growing at unprecedented levels. According to the World Health Organization the “urban population in 2014 accounted for 54% of the total global population, up from 34% in 1960, and continues to grow.”  Some estimates guess that 80% of the world population will live in cities by 2050. That is over 1 billion new people living in urbanized areas by 2050.  (See our blog: The Power of Municipalities for more information).

Cities have the ability, responsibility, and often the encouragement from the public, to take the lead and address climate change.

If you are considering making a locally and globally recognized commitment to GHG reduction and climate change, we encourage you to consider joining The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy agreement.