A game-changer tool to fast-track climate action in African cities

Published: 28 May 2021
A game-changer tool to fast-track climate action in African cities

The Proxy Data Tool allows local governments to develop a Greenhouse Gas inventory in just a few hours and without the extensive data collection exercise, capacity and resources usually required. It will help bridge the data gap evident across Sub-Saharan Africa. 

During the early stages of the Sustainable Energy Access and Climate Action Plan (SEACAP) journey CoM SSA signatories need to gain an understanding of their baseline in terms of climate mitigation, adaptation and energy access. In order to plan strategic mitigation interventions, local governments need to have an idea of the biggest sources of carbon emissions in their territory. Local governments generate a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) inventory to inform these interventions. This exercise usually takes around three to six months at a cost of about 20 000 EUR per inventory. The Proxy Data Tool (PDT) however allows local governments to generate a basic GHG inventory within a few hours and without any cost. This tool and user guide were commissioned by ICLEI Africa and developed as part of the CoM SSA initiative.  

A GHG inventory quantifies the amount of Greenhouse gasses emitted by an entity, for example, a firm, city, local government or national government over the course of a year. This figure is expressed as the total tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emitted by the entity. The Proxy Data Tool follows the Global Protocol for Community-scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories (GPC) methodology which is the most recognised methodology for sub-national GHG inventories. The PDT helps local governments find data on selected sources of emissions, as prescribed by the GPC. 

How does the Proxy Data Tool work?

The Proxy Data Tool is built on the City Inventory and Reporting System (CIRIS) Tool, developed by C40, ICLEI and the World Resource Institute (WRI), as an easy-to-use Excel spreadsheet designed to assist regions in reporting their emissions. The Proxy Data Tool allows users to quickly and easily generate an approximation of a subnational region’s Greenhouse Gas emissions. It draws on some of the data from existing national and regional-level data and then downscales this data to the local level.  Users are only required to enter basic census data on population and Gross Domestic Product, but can also complement this with local-level data on energy, transport and waste if it is available. The total emissions are calculated by using this basic census and economic data, drawing on existing available National, Regional and International data and scaling it down to provide local-level estimates for the stationary energy, transportation, and waste sectors.

Please note: Although proxy data is widely used to inform inventories, due to the nature of proxy data, the results are an approximation. The quality and reliability of a GHG inventory is directly related to the quality and reliability of input data and therefore users should, wherever possible, review and update the default data utilised by the Proxy Data Tool. 

A game-changer for CoM SSA signatories and all cities

The PDT will allow signatories to generate a high-level GHG inventory even when primary data (e.g. data gathered through household surveys and through data collection) is lacking. Many of the CoM SSA signatories do not have any previous experience with developing an inventory. The PDT will be a game-changer for those local governments, enabling them to generate a baseline inventory, as it is intended for those developing an inventory for the first time. The more local governments that develop inventories using the GPC methodology, the easier it will be for local governments to benchmark themselves against other cities in their region. 
Having more data empowers local governments to assess their collective progress as sub-national governments towards the attainment of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) relating to climate change. The additional data provided by the Proxy Data Tool will help to advocate for the stronger inclusion of local government in decision making and in climate data monitoring and reporting processes. 


“To achieve the drastic emissions reduction and resilience measures needed to avoid the devastating impacts of climate change, local leaders need to implement integrated, cross-sectoral climate policy - enabled by the right data, tools, strategies, and partnerships. Making tools more easy-to-use and data more accessible is an important lever to help all cities accelerate their climate action journey, but especially those with limited capacities, while also taking into account specific regional differences and needs.” Jorn Verbeeck, Head of Research and Innovation at the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy Secretariat



Using the tool in CoM SSA cities 

The PDT has been used in Bobo Dioulasso in Burkina Faso and Nakuru County in Kenya. Both these sub-national governments required data to inform their mitigation targets and corresponding actions to limit emissions. The PDT was applied to both sub-national governments and the findings were discussed with key local stakeholders in hybrid workshops facilitated by ICLEI Africa and GIZ. 

The PDT provided these sub-national governments the opportunity to embark on their SEACAP journey without being held back by a lack of data, which is a common barrier encountered in the process. The three sectors assessed using the tool in these cities were stationary energy, waste and transport. The findings showed that key sources of emissions in the stationary sector were residences, due to the relatively small rollout of electricity to households many are reliant on charcoal, kerosene and wood. The GHG inventories help identify the low-hanging fruit for mitigation interventions, planning and project prioritisation, which in turn could help with financing. 

The PDT will be formally launched soon, keep an eye on CoM SSA communication channels for more information. 

Please contact the helpdesk@comssa.org for more information.

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