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Research Spotlight: Conor Riffle, Director of Cities and Data Product Innovation at CDP

Welcome to the second installment of Research Spotlight, a new series launched to feature C40’s dynamic Research programme. In this post, we hear from C40 partner, CDP Cities, on an exciting new development. – Seth Schultz, C40 Director of Research, Measurement & Planning

Have you ever wanted to sift through the climate change data from C40 cities? Today is your lucky day. CDP is proud to announce that our 2013 data set—encompassing climate change data from 110 cities around the world, including 80% of the C40—is now available for free download.  Navigate to CDP’s open data portal to access the data.

The 2013 reporting year marked the third year of the CDP – C40 collaboration to enable annual climate change reporting from city governments.  The vast majority of C40 cities now report on their climate change progress every year.  And thanks to leadership from C40 cities, non-C40 cities are also answering the call for annual climate change reporting in large numbers.

The result of this partnership is one of the most comprehensive sets of city climate change data on the planet.  The data provides an exhaustive portrait of how 110 cities around the world are dealing with climate change.  Cities report on every aspect of their climate management, from measurement of greenhouse gas emissions to the actions they are taking to improve their resilience to climate risks.

The data includes emissions reduction targets, Scope 3 emissions, social risks from climate change, and many other data points. Claire Bonham-Carter, Director of Sustainable Development at AECOM, led the team that analysed last year’s data for CDP’s reports. She said, “It’s a huge data set. It covers a huge range of information…both mitigation and adaptation. And it’s not just figures—tonnes of CO2, kilowatt hours, litres of oil—there’s also text boxes, and the cities really spend a lot of effort giving us a lot of information.”

This rich data set deserves to be open.  In fact, reporting cities have a choice of whether to make their data public or keep it private; nearly 90% of cities choose the public option. That’s why CDP has licensed this data using Creative Commons.  Our Creative Commons license specifically allows users to use, re-use, share and adapt the data for non-commercial uses, as long as CDP is cited as the source. To our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive data set on cities and climate change to be licensed under Creative Commons.  With this license, we are inviting the world to download our public data and use it.

Already, our strategy of sharing our data is paying off.  CDP data is informing the important research that underpins the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report.  Major academic institutions like the London School of Economics and City University of Hong Kong are incorporating CDP data into their own research.  City governments are downloading the raw data—five of the first organizations to access our free data pilot in 2012 were city governments.  Even the World Bank has become a regular user of CDP data.  “The World Bank relies on CDP for timely, reliable climate change-related data from city governments,” says Dr. Stephen Hammer, Lead Urban Specialist for Cities and Climate Change at the World Bank.

Without the continued effort of cities to report their climate change information every year to CDP, there would be no data to make publicly available. Both CDP and C40 would like to thank the cities who took the time to report to CDP in 2013, as well as Bloomberg Philanthropies, whose financial support of CDP makes our open data work possible. We look forward to a bigger, broader, and open data set next year!

To download the CDP 2013 data, please click here.

Conor Riffle is Director, Cities and Product Innovation at CDP.  He tweets at@c_riffle.