NYC among 21 cities to disclose carbon output

NEW YORK (Reuters) - More than 20 U.S. cities, including New York, Las Vegas and Denver, have agreed to measure their carbon footprints, with a system some 1,300 companies have been persuaded to use, in an attempt to find ways to curb emissions blamed for warming the planet.

A view of the New York skyline with buildings along 5th Avenue as seen from the AeroBalloon ride flying above New York's Central Park on the opening day of rides open to the public July 25, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Segar

“If you don’t measure these emissions, you cannot manage them,” said Paul Dickinson, the chief executive of the UK- based Carbon Disclosure Project, which joined forces with the cities. Urban traffic, buildings and manufacturers emit 70 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases.

Each of the 21 cities will gather emissions data for their municipal functions, such as their fire and police departments, government buildings and waste services, which will help cities compare how they are doing. They will also assess emissions from the city as a whole.

“Working together, and with the best data, we can manage this problem,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a release.

The CDP, which represents 385 global institutional investors that manage a total of more than $57 trillion in assets, has gathered corporate emissions data through surveys since 2000. It says it has collected the largest corporate greenhouse gas emissions database in the world.

CDP also assists multinational organizations to collect climate change data from their suppliers.

Earlier this year, more than 20 of the world’s largest companies, including IBM, Nestle SA, and Tesco, with a combined purchasing power of about $1 trillion, found that only a quarter of their suppliers had greenhouse gas reduction targets, according to a survey coordinated by CDP.

Dickinson said once the cities discover their biggest sources of emissions, emerging energy-efficiency companies should swoop in and find ways for them to save emissions and money by slowing the waste of fuel. “The process should really lead to the beginnings of a fundamental restructuring of how cities consume energy,” he said.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc, which initially resisted disclosing their emissions through CDP, has since received praise for targeting the sources of their emissions.

Cities can do the same, Dickinson said. “Cities compete in the market for business, investment, talent, all sorts of things, and finding ways to profit by tackling climate change can make them attractive,” he said.

The 21 cities will submit their responses to CDP by October 31. and the results will be published in the group’s first cities report in January.

Other cities in the project include West Palm Beach, St. Paul, and New Orleans. At least nine more are expected to take part. Dickinson said CDP is working to expand the project to cities in other countries.

CDP partnered on the project with ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability USA, an international association of local governments working on environmental issues.

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Editing by Marguerita Choy