Research Spotlight: Seth Schultz, C40 Director of Research, Measurement & Planning

In this post, Seth Schultz, C40 Director of Research, Measurement & Planning, kicks off a new series featuring C40’s dynamic Research programme.

‘Measurement for management’ is a key tenet of C40, a legacy of former New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure as Chair and a mantra that the C40 Research Team lives by. The data we collect and analyse help inform the strategic direction of our organization, and provide the foundation for critical climate action planning and investment by cities. But, more importantly, it provides a quantitative evidence base that cities are tackling climate change at a voracious pace while also creating better tools and processes by which cities can help each other accelerate their work in this space.

Let me catch you up on some of the exciting and groundbreaking work of C40’s Research Team. C40 is among the pioneering organisations, along with WRI and ICLEI, in establishing a process called the Global Protocol for Community-scale Greenhouse Gas emissions (GPC) helping global cities to measure their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  We have recently concluded a piloting programme with cities around the world and will be releasing a final version later this year.

Our flagship research publication Climate Action in Megacities, developed in partnership with Arup, is the first of its kind to measure not only city climate actions but also the powers that mayors hold to drive emissions reductions and climate resilience. With our partners at CDP along with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, we created a global platform for cites to publicly disclose their GHG emissions, risk and mitigation actions and a slew of other key data. I am proud to say that C40 cities continue to lead the charge in urban environmental disclosure with over 80% participating to date. In partnership with AECOM, CDP and C40 release an annual global report discussing each year’s findings and make the data publicly available.

Through a collaboration with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) we developed a methodology to help assess the GHG emissions abatement potential associated with various actions and technologies. We further estimated the impact that existing actions by C40 cities would have by 2020 and the potential impact they could have by 2030 – known as the “Rio Numbers”. More recently, working with Siemens, C40 has launched a Measurement & Planning Initiative which will work with C40 cities in setting standards, developing GHG inventories and working groups, tools and best practices to help cities further their work in climate action planning.

We have much more in the works, and in 2014 we will continue to highlight the role of cities in reducing emissions, mitigating climate risk, and improving the quality of life in cities. As you can see, we have been busy but we have much more to do! That is why I am pleased to be kicking off a new series, “Research Spotlight”, which will feature our activities, publications, milestones as well as the voices of our team members and partners. We hope you’ll follow us throughout the journey as it unfolds. Stay tuned for the next installment of Research Spotlight.

Seth Schultz is C40 Director of Research, Measurement & Planning. He tweets at @sethschultz and can be contacted by emailing research@c40.org.