New Class of 119 ‘A List’ Cities Show Climate Action Becoming Mainstream For World’s Cities

119 cities from across the world have been named as leaders in environmental action and transparency in 2023 by CDP.

The cities, many of which are returning to the ‘A List’, show that action to tackle climate change is becoming mainstream for many of the world’s urban areas, including in the Global South.

The sixth annual Cities A List published by CDP – the non-profit that runs the world’s environmental disclosure system for companies, cities, states, and regions – celebrates cities that, through transparency, ambition, and bold action to tackle climate change, are recognized as global environmental leaders.

This year, 939 cities reporting through the CDP-ICLEI Track were scored by CDP, with 13% of them receiving an A. Spanning every continent, as well as large and small urban areas, cities on the 2023 A-List include Barcelona (Spain), Denver (USA), Mexico City (Mexico), Cape Town (South Africa), Quezon City (the Philippines), and Canberra (Australia).

With recent CDP data showing that 80% of cities are facing climate hazards (such as heatwaves and floods), and with 70% expecting those hazards to become more intense, concerted climate action from cities is crucial.

Many cities are building on the momentum of their environmental action, making it mainstream to their operations. This is reflected in the growing number of cities that are consistently receiving an ‘A’, despite the fact that the criteria to score an A have tightened.

This is also noticeable in the Global South, with cities in Ecuador, Peru, and Jordan receiving their second-ever A; cities in Chile and Malaysia receiving their third A; and cities in Argentina and South Africa receiving their sixth A. Two-fifths of cities (40%, or 47 cities) are new to the A List this year, with the Global South being well represented again – Istanbul (Türkiye), Jakarta (Indonesia), Bogotá (Colombia) and Can Tho (Vietnam – the first time the country has appeared on the A List) – all receive their first A.

Cities Must Step Up Their Transparency

Moreover, continuing the strong environmental performance of Global South cities, a number of countries have received their highest-ever number of A-List cities. These include Brazil (3), Colombia (2), The Philippines (2) and Türkiye (2).

Europe is the region with the largest share of cities (48) on the 2023 A-List. North America has the next highest number of cities (42) on the A-List, followed by Latin America (11), Asia (8), Oceania (6), the Middle East (3) and Africa (1).

The USA has the most A-List cities of any one country (35), from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. Meanwhile, the UK has continued the steady rise in the number of its local authorities on the A-List, from 19 in 2022 to 26 in 2023. New cities include Birmingham, Brighton & Hove, and Cambridge.

Maia Kutner, CDP Director of Cities, States, and Regions, said: “2023 will be remembered as the year when centuries-long climate records weren’t just broken, but smashed, in mere days and weeks. While cities around the world felt the full force of the year’s climate disasters, from heatwaves to floods, it’s positive that many are leading by example in tackling climate change with tangible action.”

“We are delighted to celebrate the 119 cities, from Lima to London, whose effective action makes them global climate leaders. Even more encouragingly, this is not the first time that many – including from the Global South – are on CDP’s A List, showing that serious climate action is now mainstream for many of the world’s cities.”

“This is no time for complacency, though. Cities not reporting environmental data must step up their transparency, while many more need to accelerate their efforts to reach net zero and create a more sustainable future for all, especially the most vulnerable.”