Nordic cities on the front foot, accounting for more than half of CDP's A List cities in continental Europe for 2023
22 cities across Europe have today been named as leaders for their environmental transparency and action in 2023. Published by CDP, the non-profit which runs the world's environmental disclosure system, the 2023 CDP Cities A List includes capitals Athens, Copenhagen, Madrid, Oslo, Paris, Reykjavík and Stockholm, yet the vast majority of leading European urban areas have under 1 million inhabitants.
The number of European A List cities has risen slightly year-on-year, up from 21 cities last year. Globally, the 2023 Cities A List recognises 119 cities worldwide as climate leaders, many of which are returning to the 'A List', revealing that action to tackle climate change is becoming mainstream for many of the world's urban areas.
Nordic cities are leading the region on environmental reporting and action, with 12 cities across Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland named on the A List for 2023 – representing more than half (54%) of the total cities making the cut across the continent. Both capitals and smaller cities feature on this year's list, with 80% of Europe's A List made up of urban areas under 1 million inhabitants – proving that cities do not need to have the extensive resources and financing of capitals to show environmental leadership.
The sixth annual Cities A List published by CDP celebrates cities recognized as global environmental leaders. This is through transparency, ambition and bold action to tackle climate change; part of the several criteria cities must meet to score A. With recent CDP data showing that 80% of cities globally are facing climate hazards, and that 70% expect those hazards to become more intense, concerted climate action on their part is crucial.
In Europe, 112 cities reporting through CDP-ICLEI Track were scored by CDP, with nearly 20% (22 cities) receiving an A. This puts Europe above the global average for urban climate leadership - 13% of reporting cities worldwide received an A. Spanning every continent, as well as large and small urban areas, global cities on the 2023 A List include Denver (USA), Mexico City (Mexico), Cape Town (South Africa), Quezon City (the Philippines), and Canberra (Australia).
Many cities are building on the momentum in their environmental action, making it mainstream to their operations. This is reflected in the growing number of cities that are consistently receiving an 'A', even though the score criteria have tightened. Nearly two-thirds of Europe's A List cities are returning to the A List for at least the second year in a row.
Maxfield Weiss, CDP Europe's Executive Director, said:
"2023 has been the year of broken temperature records and weather extremes, making it more apparent than ever that cities are on the frontlines of the environmental crisis. Yet they are also integral to the solutions and the CDP A List offers a rare glimmer of hope by celebrating those who are leading by example with tangible, impactful action to address the many challenges our urban areas now face.
"It is especially heartening to see so many smaller cities on this year's Europe A List, proving that you do not need vast financial resources to lead the way on environmental reporting and action. Now, cities must accelerate their efforts to reach net zero – and as the first step on their environmental journey, we must see many more disclosing to CDP-ICLEI track in the years to come."
CDP A List Cities in Europe: Athens, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Guimarães, Helsingør, Lund, Madrid, Malmö, Mannheim, Milan, Münster, Oslo, Paris, Reykjavík, Saragossa, Stockholm, Tampere, Trondheim, Turin, Turku, Uppsala, Vantaa
City climate leadership in action
CDP analysis shows A List cities report taking four times as many mitigation and adaptation measures as non-A List cities. For example:
Paris is mobilizing citizens of the French capital, with nearly 27,000 Climate Volunteers who participate in information meetings and training sessions, spread mitigation and adaptation awareness and knowledge in their communities and promote sustainable practices.
The German city Münster is raising awareness of how climate change is affecting the lives of its citizens through climate walks. These city tours involve citizens in the adaptation process and encourage them to take action in their everyday lives.
The Swedish capital Stockholm is taking a significant step toward using its resources in a more sustainable way by making it compulsory for households to sort and dispose of their food waste separately. This food waste can then be biologically treated and transformed into biogas (a renewable fuel for buses, trucks and cars) as well as into biofertilizers.
Municipalities are also collaborating to adapt to their changing environment. The small city of Helsingør, Denmark is focusing its adaptation measures on preparing for rising sea levels after previous storms caused considerable damage to built-up coastal areas. Together with nearby city Hundested, Helsingør has drawn up a joint coastal protection plan for Denmark's north coast, with the overall aim to protect against chronic and acute erosion over the next 50 years.
Faced with increasingly frequent extreme heat, the city of Saragossa (Spain) provides care for people experiencing the health consequences of climate change, for example with improved preventive actions, warning and information systems, social care networks and a range of projects to address the health impacts of extreme temperatures, especially for more vulnerable members of society.
Milan, Italy has introduced an energy retrofit plan for municipal buildings, covering both residential and non-residential buildings, with the goal of halving the city's greenhouse gas emissions generated by heating in municipal buildings by 2030 and achieving zero emissions generated from heating by 2040.