Overview of the Global Covenant of mayors for climate and energy

Our previous blog on the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy sparked great conversations regarding what the Covenant specifically entails and many of our municipal clients are curious to learn more. Building off these conversations, please read below to learn more about this commitment, what it will mean for your community, and the benefits of emissions tracking and climate action planning.

What is the Global Covenant of Mayors?

The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy provides a framework for communities to track greenhouse gas emissions and set reduction targets, as well as develop a climate action plan to prepare for climate change mitigation and adaptation. It is the world’s largest collaboration of local municipal leaders (including cities, towns, and counties of all sizes) that are tackling climate change head-on by pledging to track and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change through mitigation and adaptation. Participating jurisdictions have access to a global network of communities from which they can learn, network, and collaborate. Further, joining the Covenant will provide your community with access to a broad set of toolkits, including access to the ClearPath GHG calculation and reporting tool through 2018. After 2018 your community has the option of joining ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability to continue to have access to this reporting tool.

Emissions tracking and climate action planning will allow your community to fully understand the impact of your operations on the climate and prepare for and adapt to our changing climate. The Covenant can be a useful tool of any local leader invested in sustainability and interested in addressing the effects of climate change.

What are the requirements of my participation?

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There are four simple steps to follow:

Step 1: Register Your Commitment

Your first step to becoming involved in the Covenant of Mayors is to submit a formal letter signed by the Mayor or chief elected official that illustrates your community’s desire to track and reduce emissions and develop a climate action plan. The Covenant website provides a very useful template and guidelines for drafting this letter.

The Global Covenant of Mayors also provides the Carbonn and CDP reporting platforms for communities to easily report and track their progress. Once you have submitted your letter of commitment to one of these platforms, you will receive your official “commitment” badge to share and demonstrate your climate action leadership.

Step 2: Take Your Inventory

Within one year of registering with the Covenant of Mayors, your community must complete and report a GHG inventory that is consistent and robust—this means following the GPC guidelines for community-scale GHG inventories. The Covenant provides both the ClearPath GHG Inventory Tool and the City Inventory Reporting and Information System (CIRIS) tools to make emission calculations simple, transparent, and consistent across the globe. In the first year of your participation, the inventory need only encompass emissions generated from stationary energy use and inbound travel and transportation. At this stage, you will also identify the climate hazards and risks faced by your community—this may include environmental hazards and economic impacts from climate change, among other risks.

This inventory, as well as the climate hazards that you identify for your community, must be reported in your chosen reporting platform.

Step 3: Set Your Targets

Within the second year of committing to the Global Covenant of Mayors, you will need to update your community’s GHG inventory to include all sources and sectors of emissions, including waste. With this updated and more robust inventory completed, you can now begin developing your GHG reduction targets.

The Covenant of Mayors provides a useful tool for setting targets in the City Action for Urban Sustainability (CURB) Tool. Using inputs from the ClearPath GHG Inventory Tool, this scenario planning tool allows you to project out your GHG emissions in the coming years and develop options for creating an effective climate action plan.

Step 4: Develop Your Action Plan

You have measured your emissions, analyzed your climate hazards and risks, and created targets towards which you will strive. Congratulations—your community is now ready to develop a climate action plan! In addition to addressing how your community will mitigate climate change through reducing emissions and improving sustainability, your plan should also address how your community will adapt to the changing climate and ensure long-term community resiliency. This guiding document can serve your community for years to come as you increase your sustainability and climate resiliency and improve the quality of life for your citizens.

While the four steps to become Covenant compliant can be completed within three years, many communities find upon joining the Covenant that they are already well on their way to receiving their badge of compliance due to efforts they already have undertaken. Once compliant, you commit to continuing to report your emissions and update your targets as your progress towards your climate action goals.

Communities that are concerned about the effects of climate change, want to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and desire to plan and prepare to adapt to our changing climate may find the Global Covenant of Mayors an incredibly valuable tool and network. If you are in Colorado, you will find an additional useful resource in the Compact of Colorado Communities, which complements the Covenant of Mayors to support our local communities in reducing emissions and improving sustainability measures. The Compact of Colorado Communities is an incredible resource through which participating communities can access information sharing, networking, resources, and capacity building with other local communities that are facing similar challenges.

The Covenant of Mayors offers a framework and tools for conducting emissions inventories, setting targets, and developing a climate action plan. Communities may also pursue climate action planning and emissions inventories outside of participating in the Covenant.

If you are interested in joining the Global Covenant of Mayors, conducting a GHG emissions inventory, or developing a climate action plan for your community, but are still unsure of where to start, please reach out to us. We have a depth of experience in GHG inventories, sustainability strategy development, and climate action planning, and would be pleased to assist you in this process.