New report on climate action: Cities are spearheading a global green movement

2. October 2019

Cities’ leadership on the climate crisis provides the added benefit of creating safe, liveable, and equitable cities for all citizens, new report shows.

The Cities100 report launched today showcases ambitious and innovative action from 100 of the most forward-thinking and inclusive climate action projects worldwide. The cities featured demonstrate they can deliver on the highest goals of the Paris Agreement and drive forward solutions to the climate crisis.

Cities100 showcases leading examples of cities from 59 cities and 26 countries, future-proofing themselves against the diverse challenges of climate change including extreme weather, heightened inequalities, and sea level rise. Aarhus Municipality in Denmark is one of these cities, planning to become climate-neutral by 2030.

Climate action is taking place in all sectors of society, including sustainable mobility, climate action planning, and clean energy, as well as air quality, inclusive climate action, and sustainable food systems. 

Mark Watts, Executive Director, C40 Cities, says:

“Cities worldwide are at the forefront of providing innovative solutions to the climate crisis humanity is facing - demonstrated brilliantly by the inspiring examples showcased in Cities100.

“The majority of the world’s population live in cities, projected to be 70% by 2050. Cities are also responsible for over 70% of all energy-related CO2 emissions. With global temperatures rising dangerously, it has never been more important for cities to be leading the way on climate action. We look forward to learning more about how these innovative solutions to reducing emissions and improving quality of life are being implemented by mayors with the chance to celebrate them during the C40 Mayors Summit in Copenhagen.”

The world has eleven years to transition to a carbon neutral economy, and thereby avoid the worst impacts of climate change, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) ‘Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C’. Many cities featured in Cities100 are on climate-neutral trajectories and planning to stay below 1.5 degrees.

Jesper Nygård, CEO, Realdania, says:

“The IPCC report made it very clear that urgent action is needed if we want to bend the curve on the climate crisis. The projects in this year’s Cities100 report clearly demonstrate that cities are acting fast and doing their utmost to create liveable, resilient homes for millions of people. And the great variety of projects and approaches stresses the fact, that we must also help smaller municipalities stepping up at the climate agenda to meet the global goals in time.”

Citizens are fighting for a bright and inclusive future

The impacts of climate change can often be felt most acutely by the most vulnerable in society. Cities100 demonstrates that inclusivity is becoming a prerequisite for city climate action, with more cities than ever integrating meaningful citizen engagement in their planning efforts. In the Danish Municipality of Gladsaxe, citizens co-created a climate adapted neighborhood and multi-purpose greenspace, with the ideas created through citizen-led workshops, decided upon via a community voting event, and developed via a participatory budget. 

This year, Greta Thunberg and the youth climate strikes triggered a movement of young people engaging in climate activism. Cities100’s chapter on Citizen Engagement demonstrates that young people can be effective agents of change. In the Mexican municipality of Zapopan, children are being taught sustainable mobility and enlisted to challenge their parents’ generation’s dependence on cars. 

Cities are stepping up to cut down on deadly air pollution

Increasingly, cities are taking action on the silent killer of air quality. The World Health Organization estimates that seven million people die each year from exposure to polluted air. London is protecting the lungs of over two million of the city’s residents with the introduction of the world’s strictest standards for vehicular air pollution to slash air pollution – the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). In Copenhagen, the Cycle Super Highways are keeping citizens healthy while lowering transport related emissions in the capital.

Esben Lanthén, Partner and Founder, Nordic Sustainability, says:

In the Cities100 2019 report, we’re seeing a number of uplifting trends on how cities are taking the climate crisis seriously. We see the cities are strategically addressing the climate crisis through taking a holistic approach and addressing their most pressing issues. They’re doing so by considering both the local impacts of the climate crisis on their citizens and ensuring their city is part of the solution on a global scale. As such, cities are accelerating their climate action efforts while also focusing on other challenges such as inclusivity and social justice. Overall, the 100 projects showcase the action required for cities to get on the 1.5 degree trajectory.”

New insights and analysis

The 2019 edition of Cities100 also features a new extended section on ‘What other cities can learn’, helping mayors and city workers glean inspiration from each city. In addition, this year’s report will feature an extensive analysis showcasing the global trends in city climate action as well as insights into the challenges and successes of the frontrunner cities working towards achieving safe, green, and liveable cities. 

To share best practices and celebrate the launch of Cities100, cities from around the world will gather at the 2019 C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen from October 9th-12th.

From the cities featured in the report, seven international winners for the C40 Cities Bloomberg Philanthropies Awards will be chosen and awarded during the Summit. 

The 2019 Cities100 report marks its fourth edition and the first as an entirely digital report. Cities100 is created as a collaboration between the consultancy firm Nordic Sustainability and C40 Cities, and is funded by the Danish philanthropic association, Realdania. The three previous editions were edited by the advisory group and digital agency Sustainia.

The Cities100 report can be viewed by visiting:


    The Cities100 report, now in its fourth year, is a collaboration between Realdania, C40, and Nordic Sustainability to find and showcase 100 of the most ambitious climate action projects in the world. In the pursuit to identify the most innovative projects, Nordic Sustainability and C40 launched a campaign for applications in the spring of 2019. The campaign brought in 195 project submissions. The applications then went through a process of vetting and evaluation by Nordic Sustainability and a team of experts from C40.

    The assessment of the projects is based is based on a scoring system with five criteria:

    1. Climate action: The expected or achieved CO2 reduction and/or climate risk mitigation and/or air pollution reduction of the project.

    2. Benefits: The extent to which the project has positive co-benefits for other aspects of society, in addition to its climate change mitigation and CO2 reductions.

    3. Innovation: The extent to which the project takes an entirely new or ground-breaking approach to address major environmental issues (that has not been applied similarly elsewhere).

    4. Governance: How well the project collaborates with other entities in the city and engages citizens in the project’s development and implementation.

    5. Sharing and scaling: The extent to which the project experience is shared with other cities and regions, and the future potential to scale the project within the city

    Realdania is a Danish philanthropic association with 155.000 members. The mission of Realdania is to create quality of life for all through the built environment. One philanthropic target is to promote sustainable cities. Realdania is contributing to the prevention of the climate crisis – through international climate work, sharing of knowledge and promotion of innovative sustainable solutions. Cooperation is a central part of Realdania’s philanthropic approach, and they cooperate with partners large and small in all of Denmark as well as partnering witn numerous international organisations. Established in 2000, Realdania has financed more than 3,675 projects with more than 2.5 billion €.

    C40 Cities connects 94 of the world’s leading cities to take bold climate action, leading the way towards a healthier and more sustainable future. Representing 700+ million citizens and one quarter of the global economy, mayors of the C40 cities are committed to delivering on the most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement at the local level, as well as to cleaning the air we breathe. The current chair of C40 is Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo; and three-term Mayor of New York City Michael R. Bloomberg serves as President of the Board. C40’s work is made possible by our three strategic funders: Bloomberg Philanthropies, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), and Realdania.  Nordic Sustainability is a value-based consultancy firm working at the intersection of strategy and sustainability, helping clients become fit for the future by providing strategy processes, insights, and thought leadership based on deep sustainability knowledge.
    Nordic Sustainability is the first Future Fit Business Benchmark accredited consultancy in the Nordics and works with international organisations, foundations, and companies at a Nordic and global scale.