Although the threat of climate change has been looming for decades, the fact that it actually represents an existential crisis has only hit most people very recently. In the last few years alone, huge temperature swings, extreme weather events, large-scale flooding and forest fires are terrifyingly disrupting the lives and livelihoods of people around the world.
Last summer, the UN sounded the alarm again on the immediate imperative to take action to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases, with the secretary-general calling the report “a code red for humanity. “. While it is now too late to reverse climate change, governments can still slow its pace and work to avoid increasingly devastating consequences.
Countries around the world are revising their climate action plans in light of frightening new data, tightening their emissions targets and reinvigorating their greening and energy efficiency programs. Most have set a target of 80% reduction or net carbon emissions by 2050, but most are still not on track to meet these targets as their governments grapple with economic realities and lack of momentum.
Fortunately, cities around the world are rising to the challenge as well, often exceeding their national leadership in planning and innovation. While typically burdened with energy systems and policies under the control of their country’s leaders, with limited opportunities to change course, many cities have taken city and community-wide action to reduce emissions, often combining these efforts with economic and social goals.
Because humanity has been slow to tackle the climate with the urgency it requires, it is unclear to what extent the currently revised plans and good intentions will materialize. The best and most entrenched national and municipal plans provide for close monitoring and revisions of plans, yet measuring progress and the type of reality check crucial to actual success.
Click here to see the cities emitting the most carbon dioxide in the world
To identify cities with the worst CO2 emissions in the world, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Nangini, C et al. (2019): “A global CO2 emissions dataset and ancillary emissions data for 343 cities», Published in 2017 and available via the data editor Pangea. Emissions data were collected in each of the cities on this list between the years 2011 and 2017, in each case the most recent year for which CO2 emissions data are available.
Emissions figures from transport, industry, waste and local power plants within city limits, as well as emissions (where available) from grid-supplied energy used by cities and produced by power plants outside the city limits, were also obtained from the study.