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Florianópolis holds a workshop on developing a GHG emission inventory and climate action plan

Given the increasingly severe and frequent effects of climate change, resilience and adaptation have become watchwords to ensure the sustainable development of cities. In November, Florianópolis took a step further towards becoming a more resilient city and held a workshop on developing a greenhouse gas inventory and climate action plan. Organized by the city of Florianópolis in partnership with WRI Brasil, the event brought together city managers and technicians, NGO representatives and scholars to discuss the city’s current scenario in terms of climate change and to debate mitigation and adaptation measures.

The purpose of the meeting, featuring climate experts, was to present risk management tools and initiate a training process with city hall technicians to enable them to understand and apply new knowledge in city management. The first day of the event focused on leveling climate change and cities, presenting key concepts and their contextualization in the Brazilian scenario. Laura Valente de Macedo, WRI Brasil consultant, opened the day’s activities with a talk titled “What is global climate change?". She gave an overview of climate change in Brazil and pointed out that the consequences of climate change affect not only humans but all living species. “Climate change modifies the entire ecosystem on which we depend for survival. The planet will possibly recover someday, after a long evolution cycle, but the same is not true for us. The longer we wait to act, the worse it will get”.

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Cities: the center of action in the fight against climate change

In order to further the debate, the lecture was followed by a panel discussion on “Local Climate Action”. Moderated by Laura, the panel included Roberto Strumpf, of Pangea Capital; Igor Albuquerque, of ICLEI; Luiz Roberto de Oliveira, of Recife City Hall; and João Resch Leal, of Salvador City Hall. Mitigation and adaptation processes in the urban context were addressed by Roberto Strumpf, who argues that cities, being part of the problem, should also be part of the solution. He talked about the risks and opportunities that are involved in the work to fight climate change. Risks include damage to structures due to extreme events, rising commodity prices and lack of knowledge of adaptation tools; opportunities, on the other hand, include reduced environmental impact, energy efficiency, improved risk management, recognition for good practices and greater participation and influences in national and global discussion on climate change. “Local governments, although still somewhat marginalized, with fairly recent participation in global negotiations, have the potential to take the lead in mitigation initiatives and effectively implement them. Gradually, cities are beginning to lead the search for solutions: today, including all environmental commitments undertaken by cities, more than 8,000 actions have been implemented”, he emphasized.

Strumpf also provided attendants with an overview of the GPC framework, used to define, calculate and report emissions. The method, as it is free and can be applied to any city, is intended to standardize inventories and measurements. He also explained the step by step process to develop inventories, which includes defining the geographic area, time span and emission sources, defining the calculation and data collection processes, how to apply the calculation tool and how to report results.

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One of the fronts in which cities can commit to effective emission reduction goals is the Compact of Mayors. Launched in 2014 during the New York COP, it is the world’s largest cooperative effort among mayors and city officials to consolidate climate action commitments, says Igor Albuquerque. As explained by ICLEI Climate Change Manager Igor Albuquerque, signing the Compact of Mayors entails a number of commitments for the city – vulnerability assessments, inventory development, setting of emission reduction goals and design and implementation of an action plan. “The purpose of the Compact of Mayors is to support local mitigation and adaptation actions, leverage these actions and implementing them in cities. They are local actions with global impact, as is the very nature of climate change”, added Igor.

Brazilian examples

Although still having a long way to go, Brazil has some good examples of cities acting to reduce emissions and fight climate change – and Florianópolis can learn valuable lessons from them. Among the capitals, Recife and Salvador stand out for the progress they have made in recent years with mitigation and adaptation programs. Luiz Roberto de Oliveira, low-carbon and climate policies manager for the City of Recife, and João Resch Leal, Urban Ecology Director for the City of Salvador, presented the many action fronts of both cities.

Among other projects, Recife creates city discussion forums on climate, to encourage public participation: it established the Sustainability Policy to Combat Climate Change, and currently is developing its Low-Carbon Plan. “All these measures are interrelated, each depends on the other to generate positive impacts on the city and achieve the intended results”, said Luiz Roberto. Salvador, through the Sustainable City Department, has been implementing a number of sustainability initiatives, such as 'IPTU Verde' (Green Property Tax), and works on three levels - Resilience, Environmental City Plan and Urban Forestry Plan.

Group Dynamics: mapping risks and opportunities

Florianópolis has completed its emission inventory. Now the Santa Catarina capital is facing the challenge of determining how to use this information to develop a comprehensive climate strategy for the city. In order to consolidate the morning’s discussions, in the afternoon the approximately 30 workshop attendants participated in a group activity to map risks and opportunities.

Coordinated by Igor Albuquerque, Roberto Strumpf and Diogo Pires Ferreira, Transport Project Coordinator at WRI Brasil Cidades Sustentáveis, the activity outlined risks and opportunities and framed them within four categories: climate, financial, technical and political. Divided into groups, attendants discussed the factors affecting each category. The purpose of the exercise, according to Igor, is to show that designing a mitigation and adaptation strategy does not involve only one sector; on the contrary, it depends on a number of integrated actions and requires joint efforts at all government levels. The group dynamics activity will be the starting point for discussions on the second day of the workshop, on Tuesday (24), and a guide for actions in the city.

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