Enhancing low-carbon development through international co-operation between cities in Japan and in Asian developing countries: Roles and activities for an international platform on low-carbon cities in Asia

Discussion Paper
Enhancing low-carbon development through international co-operation between cities in Japan and in Asian developing countries: Roles and activities for an international platform on low-carbon cities in Asia

Local governments play an important role in promoting low-carbon development; however their role could be significantly enhanced by greater international co-operation between cities. There are already a few networks or platforms for Asia-focused co-operation operated by Japanese cities. However, further consideration is still needed regarding the kinds of activities to be the focus of co-operation and ideas for how such networks or platforms will function. This paper will discuss several factors that should be taken into account when designing such networks or platforms, and it will recommend what kinds of activities might be appropriate for them to take up effectively.

A key message of this paper is that intercity platforms need to be mutually beneficial in order to be effective. In the context of Asian developing countries, it is difficult for cities to focus only on low-carbon measures, so it is important that these activities are integrated with broader development objectives. Moreover, the participation of Japanese cities also increasingly depends on obtaining concrete benefits for themselves, especially due to increasing fiscal constraints.

This paper proposes four potential kinds of activities that could be implemented among participating cities in an international intercity platform for Asian low-carbon development. The first is technical co-operation on low-carbon policies and practices, and the second is collaboration to promote low-carbon environment and energy business in developing Asia. The third is joint carbon credit projects, which might be considered once Japanese local governments are faced with mandatory emissions cap. The fourth activity is carbon offsetting, which could be considered when Japanese local governments are interested in promoting environmental education and awareness raising. Collaboration among networks is desired to effectively use limited resources and to best utilise the complementary roles of different platforms in terms of expertise and access to member cities.

The priority area of technical co-operation would include the practices in the sectors of building and corporate energy efficiency, household consumption, waste and wastewater treatment, and transport as well as policies such as incentive mechanisms, regulation, information provision and education in each sector and action planning for low-carbon development. The focus of low-carbon business promotion could be energy efficiency in building and corporate and energy-efficient electric appliances in households, as well as cleaner production, recycling and pollution reduction in industry.

Another key message is that the Japanese government should provide financial support for an international intercity platform for low-carbon development, especially for secretariat personnel. Responsibilities of the secretariat would include identification of specific co-benefit type low-carbon development programmes appropriate for developing Asia, linking local governments with funding opportunities, coordination of technical assistance from Japanese local governments, and development of capacity for measurement and reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction in developing countries. It is difficult for cities to coordinate and fund this kind of co-operation on their own.

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