London, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Bristol and Bournemouth make list of world's top cities for environmental action

Global environmental non-profit CDP has announces the 88 global cities that continue to lead on environmental action and transparency during 2020, despite the pressures of tackling Covid-19. 

Cities on the A List include London, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Bristol, and Bournemouth, as well as Miami (USA), Cape Town (South Africa), Buenos Aires (Argentina), and Auckland (New Zealand).

This year’s A List shows major progress since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015, demonstrating that impactful and urgent environmental action is possible:

Only 61 per cent of cities on this year’s A List (54/88) disclosed their environmental data through CDP in 2015. 

In 2015, half of the cities on the 2020 A list (44/88) did not report Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets. Today, they all report targets and 38 per cent (33/88) aim to reach net zero emissions by 2050 or earlier.

All A List cities have also made progress on building resilience to climate change, reporting plans to adapt to climate impacts. In 2015, only 30 per cent (26/88) of 2020 A List cities were reporting such plans.

​The 88 cities on the 2020 CDP Cities A List have received the highest rating for both their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and build resilience to the impacts of climate change. Together, they are setting an example of environmental action that we urgently need other cities and national governments to follow if emissions are to rapidly decline, to safeguard the planet, economy and citizens, and put us on the right track ahead of COP26.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, 34 per cent of cities are new to this year’s A List. New leaders across the globe include Newcastle (United Kingdom), Louisville KY (USA), Firenze, (Italy), and Municipalidad de Peñalolén (Chile). These cities and others on the 2020 A List are working to become resilient, healthy, and prosperous places to live and work while cutting emissions and rapidly building resilience against the climate crisis. National governments too, from the United Kingdom to South Korea have been ramping up their environmental ambition, submitting new and renewed commitments to rapidly cut emissions ahead of COP26.

The USA accounts for the highest number (25) of cities on the A List, making up 28 per cent, despite the US pulling out of the Paris Agreement on 4 November 2020. US Cities on the list include Park City, San Luis Obispo, and West Palm Beach. 

The 2020 A List are also making headway on renewable energy targets, with 26 cities working to be powered by 100 per cent renewables by 2050 or earlier. 8 cities, including Copenhagen, Stockholm and San Francisco have achieved 50 per cent of more of their targets.
Designed to drive and support cities to ramp up their climate action and ambition, CDP’s A List is based on environmental data disclosed by hundreds of cities through the CDP-ICLEI Unified Reporting System in 2020.   
To score an A, a city must disclose publicly and have a city-wide emissions inventory, have set an emissions reduction target, and published a climate action plan. It must also complete a climate risk and vulnerability assessment and have completed a climate adaptation plan to demonstrate how it will tackle climate hazards now and, in the future, among other actions.

Five years since the Paris Agreement was signed, the latest climate science tells us that global emissions must be halved by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 to avoid catastrophic climate change. The cities on this year’s A List demonstrate that impactful and urgent action is possible. Although almost 40 per cent of cities on this year’s A List did not disclose to CDP in 2015, they are now demonstrating leadership in transparency, building resilience against climate risks, and delivering against emissions reduction targets.

Analysis has shown that the number of 2020 A List cities reporting emissions reduction targets has more than doubled since 2015, with 38 per cent of these cities setting net zero targets by 2050 or earlier. Cities have also made progress on building resilience to climate change. In 2015, only 30 per cent of the 2020 A List cities reported having an adaptation plan. Actions taken by A List cities include community engagement and education, tree planting and creation of green space, and flood mapping.

Kyra Appleby, Global Director of Cities, States and Regions at CDP, says: “We commend the 88 cities on the CDP Cities A List for their transparency and action to build resilience against climate change and cut emissions. They are building resilient, healthy, and prosperous places to live and work while reinforcing their commitment to the Paris Agreement.”

“However, the science is clear – we categorically must halve global emissions by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2050 to limit the impacts of the climate crisis. The world is still in the midst of a public health crisis, but environmental action cannot slow down. The cities on the 2020 A list demonstrate resilience and ambition, and we congratulate them for their leadership in tackling climate change.”