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Which city will be first to carbon neutrality?

Steve Hoare speaks to the mayors of Adelaide, Copenhagen and Ghent to find out where they are on the road to carbon-neutral status

On the eve of COP21, the UN Climate Change Conference that took place in Paris in December, the Belgian city of Ghent announced its intention to strive for carbon neutrality. Ghent’s declaration followed the likes of Adelaide, Copenhagen, Melbourne and Vancouver, each of which has stated its aim to be the first city to achieve carbon-neutral status.

Offshore and onshore wind farms form an essential part of Copenhagen’s carbon neutral strategy
Photo: Kim Hansen

Ghent’s ambition is not as lofty as others. While Copenhagen believes it is on target to be carbon neutral by 2025 and the Australian cities are aiming to get there before that, Ghent said its commitment to the second Covenant of Mayors action plan puts it on track to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

Daniël Termont, Mayor of Ghent
Photo: Stad Gent

“It is important to note the city has not chosen the path of least resistance in terms of emission reductions,” says Daniël Termont, Mayor of Ghent. “The city council explicitly supports a climate policy that is socially just and leads to structural solutions with long-term impact.”

Copenhagen was the first city to announce its intention to become a carbon-neutral city back in May 2012. Some critics have pointed to the city’s huge offshore wind farm as an unfair advantage and that using these to offset carbon emissions elsewhere relies on other cities or regions not achieving carbon-neutral status.

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Cities without borders How mayors are taking the lead on the migrant crisis - The new role of insurers in resilience planning - Which city will be first to carbon neutrality? -The need for global standards on urban data Cities Today is the only global magazine containing analysis, comment and best practices on sustainable urban development, connecting local governments with public and private sector solutions. With an expert editorial advisory board comprising the World Bank, UN-Habitat, UNEP, and city associations ICLEI, C40, UCLG ASPAC, UCLG Africa, UCLG MEWA, Sister Cities International and FLACMA, the publication highlights the challenges facing city leaders and local governments in mobility, finance, smart technology, health care, energy efficiency, water, sanitation, security and housing

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