Together, we are facing an enormous challenge to achieve the targets set in the Paris Climate Agreement. But we also know that if we admit defeat now, we’ll be in a much worse position in 2030 and even 2050. Every fraction of a degree counts, but are cities doing enough to reach this goal?
Arcadis recognises that every city is different and there is no one route to becoming a truly sustainable city. To catalyse real progress on how cities are reaching sustainability goals, we need better data that helps us understand the differences in approach and performances – which is why the latest Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index 2022 (SCI) ranks 100 of the world’s leading cities for sustainability.
Only custom-tailored approaches can help cities take advantage of unique opportunities to mitigate climate change in their local geography and help people adapt to the unique challenges climate change will bring them.
How does your city compare?
The SCI list examines cities across three pillars of sustainability: planet, people and profit.
Although each pillar is weighted equally, the findings show that a city can be dominant within a pillar, but still drop in the overall ranking. The combined result of each pillar determines the overall performance of each city.
Peter Hogg, UK Cities Director said: “Though all three factors are weighted equally in the rankings, an intriguing result is that the data shows putting the planet and people first is a more reliable road to prosperity than putting profit first, as long as there is some profit to finance the necessary progress.
“Of the 20 cities at the top of the SCI, seven rank in the top ten for planet and three rank in the top ten for people. The lesson we can take away is that focusing on planet and people solutions can lead to economic pay-off and growth, preparing a city to succeed in rising sustainable economies of the future.”
The survey is showing some surprising results. While Manchester boasts the cleanest air among English cities, Leeds has come bottom for greenhouse gas emissions, air quality and green spaces.
In Scotland, Glasgow has come out top for sustainability over almost all English cities, while Edinburgh has the most accessible green spaces but needs investment in energy efficiency.
From an environmental perspective, London is still a significant polluter, with greenhouse gas emissions per person on a par with Shanghai and Cape Town.
However, London scores very strongly for climate policy, and if it is able to quickly turn intention into reality and secure the necessary investment to deliver widespread sustainability gains then it promises to maintain or even improve its score.
Find out more
It is clear that the challenges faced by each city are unique to their regions. Two cities with hugely different climates and different approaches to sustainability can rank close to each other in the SCI table, while still having room for improvement in specific areas. By exploring what each city is doing well, cities can learn from each other and gain inspiration to find new ways to improve performance.To find out more about the sustainability performances of 100 of the world’s cities download the Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index 2022 here.