City of Rio to launch low carbon city development program

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RIO DE JANEIRO -- The City of Rio de Janeiro and the World Bank launched today during the Rio+20 Summit a ground-breaking, city-level program to put into action the city's goals for low-carbon development.

Certified according to ISO standards, the Rio de Janeiro Low Carbon City Development Program will help Rio de Janeiro monitor and account for low carbon investments and climate change mitigation actions across different sectors in the city.

This is a timely initiative as the City of Rio de Janeiro prepares for a massive influx of investment, particularly in infrastructure, ahead of the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympics in Rio in 2016. The Program assists Rio in securing a low-carbon growth trajectory and respecting the city's rich natural resources.

'Rio de Janeiro is a leader in the area of climate change mitigation. We were the first Brazilian city to set concrete and bold goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At the end of this year, Rio will have reduced its emissions by 8%,'said Eduardo Paes, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro.

'By 2020, this will amount to 20%. We have a large emissions inventory and, with the support of the World Bank, we are launching a transparent and reliable method to account for all of the city's mitigation activities,' he added.

Rio de Janeiro's target is to secure 2.3 million metric tons of emission reductions through 2020, which is the equivalent of 20 percent of the city's 2005 emissions. The city aims to achieve this target through a variety of projects and policies across a number of urban sectors.

Some of these are already underway, such as doubling the city's network of bike paths, the opening of the first of four exclusive Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lanes, and the universalization of basic sanitation in Zona Oeste, the city's most populous area.

Emission reductions from the Program may be either accounted towards Rio's targets or sold as carbon offsets. The Program includes two initial pilot projects in the areas of urban forestry and non-motorized urban transport (bicycling), and it will expand to other sectors over time.

'We are honored to have Rio as one of our key partners in addressing the two mega-trends of the 21st century: urbanization and climate change,' said Hasan Tuluy, World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean.

'The ISO certification for such a comprehensive, municipal climate change program is a first-of-its-kind and turns Rio's Low Carbon City Development Program into a business model for climate change mitigation at city-level.'

Home to the world's largest urban forest

Rio de Janeiro is home to the largest urban forest worldwide (19,000 ha). The city has undertaken a vast reforestation and maintenance effort over the past 28 years, and plans to reforest up to 1,300 hectares of degraded land by 2016.

The Rio Low Carbon City Development Programwill quantify the carbon stored and sequestered annually in this forest using an innovative tool called iTree. Besides quantifying carbon, the tool helps value services provided by urban trees, such as reduced heating and cooling needs for buildings, removal of urban air pollution, and reduced risk of landslides, among others.

In addition, the urban forestry pilot project will build local capacity in the area of forest sampling and analytics by working in partnership with the Brazilian and U.S. Forest Services, local NGOs, and the reforestation teams from the City of Rio.

Promoting greener urban transport

With a population of about 6 million, motorized transport accounts for almost 70 percent of trips in Rio de Janeiro and about 45 percent of the city's total emissions. The city is implementing a public bicycle-sharing system and expanding its bicycle pathways. Alternate methods of transport will help to ease Rio's traffic congestion and improve the safety and mobility of all residents.

The Rio Low Carbon City Development Program will help to measure the emissions reduced by expanding the bike-sharing system and bicycle pathways. The Program is expected to expand to other sectors in the near future, including bus rapid transit lines, recycling policies, energy efficiency in buildings and street lighting, and others.

The Rio Low Carbon City Development Program was jointly developed by the City Government of Rio de Janeiro and the World Bank, with the financial support of the World Bank Institute's Climate Change Practice Group through its Carbon Finance-Assist Program.

DNV KEMA Energy & Sustainability has confirmed the Program's compliance with the requirements of the new Low Carbon City Development Program Assessment Protocol, which includes ISO 14064-2 and ISO 14001.

The Program is managed by Rio's City Hall, and the Rio-based Instituto Pereira Passos (IPP) will house all data related to emission reductions generated under the Program.

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