Climatic Change

, Volume 139, Issue 2, pp 141–154 | Cite as

Testing the efficacy of voluntary urban greenhouse gas emissions inventories

  • Fouad KhanEmail author
  • Benjamin K. Sovacool


Drawing from an original dataset of urban metropolitan carbon footprints, we explore the correlations between national level climate change commitments and sub-national level inventories. We ask: Does voluntary reporting allow a city to perform better than national average? Does ambitiousness in commitment have an impact on performance in footprint reduction? Does having long-term commitments affect performance in footprint reduction? Do binding national level commitments (such as those under the Kyoto Protocol) affect performance at the city level in terms of footprint reduction? To provide answers, we synthesize data from the largest repository of voluntary sub-national commitments and actions towards footprint reduction and greenhouse gas inventories from around the world, the Carbonn platform. More than 500 cities report at least one action, commitment or inventory to this database. We find, using a subset of this database, perhaps counter intuitively that cities with more ambitious commitments do not necessarily have steeper reductions in emissions. Our data also suggest that having long-term self-reported goals does not make the cities perform better in terms of footprint reduction. This appears to be true for both government and community commitments reported. Lastly, and positively, our data did reveal a statistically significant effect for cities belonging to countries that had committed to the Kyoto Protocol, suggesting the necessity of binding national (and supranational) climate targets.


Carbon Emission Kyoto Protocol Carbon Footprint City Level Commitment Period 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors are appreciative to the Research Councils United Kingdom (RCUK) for Energy Program Grant EP/K011790/1 “Center on Innovation and Energy Demand” and the Worldwide Fund for Nature, WWF and the Luc Hoffmann Institute for Grant 2015-06 “Identifying High Leverage Points for Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Cities,” which have supported elements of the work reported here. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of RCUK Energy Program, the WWF, or the Luc Hoffmann Institute.

Supplementary material

10584_2016_1793_MOESM1_ESM.docx (26 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 26 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.WWF Luc Hoffmann InstituteGlandSwitzerland
  2. 2.Center for Energy Technologies, Department of Business Development and TechnologyAarhus UniversityHerningDenmark
  3. 3.Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), School of Business, Management, and EconomicsUniversity of SussexBrightonUK

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