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Every year, country delegates from all over the world meet at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference to negotiate a deal to protect our planet from global warming. The 2014 summit—or 20th Conference of the Parties (COP20), currently taking place in Lima—is a key forum for developing a framework that will mark the way to an ambitious global agreement at next year’s meeting in Paris.

Even though the parties to such a deal would be national governments, the outcome of COP20 will be highly relevant to subnational actors. As recently illustrated during the UN Climate Summit in New York, cities have been drivers of climate action for years. If supported by comprehensive national policies, they could finally use their full potential to reduce their emissions and become less vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

COP20 also serves as an occasion for climate change practitioners, researchers, and activists to discuss the challenges we are facing and come up with possible solutions. An event of particular interest to us at the Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative (ESCI) was yesterday’s launch of the new version of the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories (GPC). The protocol contains a set of guidelines and standards that will allow us to be more accurate when estimating urban greenhouse gas emissions, be more effective when designing strategies to reduce these emissions, and be more efficient in tracking their progress.

So far, we have completed GPC-based assessments for 10 cities in Latin America and the Caribbean as part of the ESCI methodology. You can check out these assessments on our Urban Dashboard.

Inventories for 11 additional cities are currently being prepared. For instance, in Tegucigalpa we are working together directly with one of the lead authors of the protocol to train a team at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras to develop its own inventory.

The new version of the GPC is more detailed than its predecessor and better accommodates the challenges that cities face in terms of limited data availability and capacity to measure their emissions. We look forward to start working with the updated protocol to provide even better advice to local decision-makers on how their cities can become instrumental to mitigating climate change.