ICLEI’s Climate Neutrality Framework

By Charlotte Owen-Burge | June 30, 2021

The ICLEI commitment: Building sustainable cities, towns, regions and an urban world for all

The ICLEI Malmö Commitment and Strategic Vision is our pledge to make sustainable development the only model for development in the urban 21st century. Our joint programs, projects, initiatives, research, capacity building and advocacy in ICLEI drive worldwide action towards sustainability.

At the ICLEI World Congress 2018 in Montréal, local and regional leaders across the ICLEI network released the ICLEI Montréal Commitment and Strategic Vision. Three years later, at the Virtual Launch of the ICLEI World Congress 2021 – 2022, hosted by Malmö, Sweden, the network refined and recommitted to this vision, The ICLEI Malmö Commitment And Strategic Vision 2021 – 2027.

As a compass to shape and manage our actions in a rapidly changing world and to transform our cities, towns and regions, we will drive action through five critical, strategic and interlinked pathways that are the basis of sustainable urban development: low emission development, nature-based development, circular development, resilient development and equitable and people-centered development.

In response to the global climate emergency, ICLEI launched a Climate Neutrality Framework, calling for the necessary level of ambition and daring leadership in all cities, towns and regions around the globe, whether urban or rural.  As a part of the Green Climate Cities Program, this neutrality framework calls on all local and regional governments to accelerate climate action now.

Defining Climate Neutrality

Climate neutrality in the context of local and regional governments is defined as the targeted reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and GHG avoidance in own operations and across the community in all sectors to an absolute net-zero emission level at the latest by 2050. In parallel to this, cities, towns and regions must adapt to climate change and enhance climate resilience across all sectors, in all systems and processes. To achieve climate neutrality local and regional governments should set a clear goal and advance rapidly following a holistic and integrated approach that leads to a wide range of co-benefits for sustainable development, such as creating socio-economic opportunities, reducing poverty and inequality, and improving the health of people and nature.

Three pillars for climate neutrality

ICLEI’s Climate Neutrality Framework is built on three pillars of action to help all levels of government achieve climate neutrality:

  1. Drastically reduce and sequester greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  2. Divest, repurpose and reinvest
  3. Offset and compensate any GHG emissions that cannot immediately be removed, reduced or avoided

Integration with the GreenClimateCities program

The GreenClimateCities Program is ICLEI’s climate action initiative that offers cities, towns and regions in the ICLEI network with guidance and tools following three phases: Analyze, Act, Accelerate which unfold into nine steps.

The GCC Program is tailor-made to support local and regional governments to set and achieve climate and energy targets, whether they start or are advanced. The proven process methodology guides local and regional governments step-by-step to tackle climate change, addressing integrated climate action – climate change adaptation,  resilience and mitigation.