Empowered by digital tools cities will work together towards Net Zero

5 min readJan 27, 2022


With the aid of new tools, cities can lead the transition to Net Zero, empowered by data and accessible, quantified feedback on our actions. 50 cities have gathered for this task, and we ask others to join us.

After COP26, the 1.5 °C target is still alive, but only just. Those that have historically contributed the most to the climate crisis must move to Net Zero as quickly as possible, while smaller communities in developing contexts can catch up. With over half the human population living in cities, we are at the heart of the solution. Access to modern technology and tools that display knowledge and support bold decision-making will help us achieve 1.5°C.

We are cities of all sizes and contexts from across 5 continents. We represent over 80 million citizens from 18 countries. Among us are cities with targets to reach Net Zero in less than 10 years, and others that are only starting their climate journey. We are determined to ensure technology transfer to developing contexts and enable opportunities for economic prosperity. Today we stand united, to report progress, share solutions and work to tackle the climate emergency.

You can’t change what you can’t measure

As the number of cities with 1.5 °C-aligned targets increases, there are areas of knowledge we need to advance.

What actions and policies will lead to the largest emissions reductions, what will it cost, what payback time do they have, and what benefits for society will we reap in our city? These are questions that many cities still struggle to answer with any precision, in part because we work with offline, excel-based tools which have limitations.

With new comprehensive constantly updating online tools that gather and streamline data from around the world we will begin to create an overview of best available answers to these questions in a way that is relevant to individual local governments. When scenario-planning is made easier, the big battles become apparent, in turn prompting more collaboration and bolder decisions.

The cities climate arena is moving rapidly

WWF’s One Planet City Challenge (OPCC) has been active for a decade, engaging over 700 cities to report their climate work. It has contributed to setting the agenda for local climate action and growing numbers have engaged, for example through the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action and the Race to Zero. The role of cities was recognized in the COP 26 Glasgow Climate Pact. Cities have both economic muscles and the mandate for effective climate action.

As cities report to the OPCC progress can be tracked and over the last two years significant improvements have been evident. Work is becoming more robust and ambitious, with just over a fifth of OPCC participants reporting targets partially or completely in line with 1.5 °C. This proportion almost doubled in 2021 compared to 2019 and we expect greater gains in 2022. Although work is taking place to meet the Paris Agreement’s goals, very little data is currently reported in a way that helps us see which actions will reduce emissions the most, are most feasible, and popular among other cities. Using our approach, data can be used to inform our decisions and fed back into our shared tool to shape our goals, targets and actions further as we go.

No-one can reach Net Zero alone

No matter how good our data, climate transition today is less of an information and technology issue, and more about implementation and cooperation. Sharing knowledge, in real time, across countries, contexts and continents, about what works and what doesn’t; aligning experts within cities and across departments behind an overarching political plan and motivating everyone to take ownership, will lead to success.

Data from various sources feeds into the tool so we can see if our targets align with 1.5°C and if not, what additional actions will get us there. We can further tailor this digital tool to our local and national realities, growing the database and enabling more cities to benefit as they choose the tool in the future. We have gathered for a year of climate action and will improve our climate action plans and collaborate on their implementation, in the tool during 2022.

As 2022 advances, we will be able to report our aggregated progress at any given time showing how many of us have aligned our climate plans with a 1.5 °C trajectory and quantify our financial and CO2 payoffs, our co-benefits and our contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals. In turn our progress can form a comprehensive contribution to the global climate negotiations at COP27, where cities are invited to play their part.

We believe that cites can lead the way on climate solutions, with growing knowledge and motivation. Cities will become less polluted, more attractive, resilient, vibrant places along the way. Local jobs will be created, and quality of life improved, as the path to Net Zero becomes the road most travelled.

Manuel Pulgar Vidal

Fact box:
50 cities are collaborating in WWF’s and Futureproofed’s year of climate action on a digital platform. The platform allows them to craft impactful climate action plans. With the tool, cities can cooperate across departments, as well as communicate with citizens, but also across cities and countries.
Joining cities will be able to see if they are fulfilling their fair share of the Paris Agreement. The goal of the year is to align cities with a maximum global warming of 1.5 °C.

All cities participate in WWF’s One Planet City Challenge.

Augusto Federico Cáceres Viñas, San Isidro
Javier Guiñez Castro, San Pedro de la Paz
Evelyn Matthei Fornet, Providencia
Claudio Castro Salas, Renca
Juan Carlos Díaz Avendaño , Talca
William Dau Chamatt, Cartagena
Carlos Alberto Maya Lopez, Pereira
Claudia López Hernández, Bogota
Carlos Ordosgoitia Sanin, Monteria
Mario Rolando Mejía Alfaro , Iztapa, Escuintla
Nasry Juan Asfura Zablah, Tegucigalpa
Renan Barrera Concha, Merida
Luis Donaldo Colosio Riojas, Monterrey
Alejandra Gutiérrez Campos, León
Carlomagno Chacón Gómez, Magdalena del Mar
Santiago Guarderas Izquierdo, Quito
Benjamin B. Magalong, Baguio City
Mar-Len Abigail S. Binay-Campos, Makati City
Dolly Govender, Kwadukuza
Anna Hed, Mora
Veerawat Paknikorn, Yasothon
Osman Gürün, Mugla
Ekrem İmamoğlu, Istanbul
Henry (Harry) Trueman, Sunderland
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF
Serge de Gheldere, Futurerproofed




Building a future in which people live in harmony with nature.