Consumption-Based Emissions


Over 80% of emissions in cities can be attributed to consumption-based emissions—also known as scope 3 emissions—the result of activitiesgoods and services produced and often disposed of elsewhere yet consumed within city borders.

Electronics, fashion, and food system value chains span vast geographies, reaching well beyond the purview of municipal governance. It’s often less evident how cities can track, influence and demonstrate success in reducing emissions generated across such complex value chains. Yet CNCA members are increasingly taking this challenge on through new climate actions that disrupt the status quo in favor of solutions that embrace principles of climate justice and move towards circular design, regenerative production and sustainable consumption.

CNCA’s Contribution

CNCA is leveraging the momentum gathering around cities’ scope 3 work to accelerate best practices through original research, facilitating peer learning cohorts, and supporting ambitious projects through the CNCA Game Changer Fund. Examples of CNCA-funded projects that contribute to this new body of knowledge follow below.

Many strategies for high-impact scope 3 systems change overlap across CNCA’s portfolio of efforts. To find out more, explore CNCA’s work in:

Awardees Selected for Game Changer Fund to Transform Food Systems tile-image

Awardees Selected for Game Changer Fund to Transform Food Systems

City Leads: London, New York City, and Vancouver
Year to Be Completed: In Progress

As of 2024, the CNCA Game Changer Fund is pleased to announce the CNCA member cities awarded grants to pursue projects that dramatically reduce emissions of food systems and simultaneously address climate justice outcomes by centering people:

  • London will utilize a community-based approach to increase residents’ consumption of low carbon food and reduce food waste by identifying and testing a package of interventions to drive sustainable behaviors in households.
  • New York City will increase access to healthy, culturally appropriate, affordable, and low-carbon foods for the NYC Dept. of Correction’s incarcerated population, while positioning city food workers to improve their skills and advance their careers via a plant-based culinary training and certification program.
  • Vancouver is using systems design, ideation, solution development, and testing approaches that are collaborative and co-creative to address the limited accountability of food waste in food supply chain, as well as develop a clear vision of what a decolonized circular food future means from Indigenous and cross-sectoral perspectives.
Consumption-Based GHG Emissions Policy Framework for Cities tile-image

Consumption-Based GHG Emissions Policy Framework for Cities

Leads: CNCA & Gaia Consulting Inc.
Year Completed: 2023

A project to support various pathways of a city’s reduction of consumption-based emissions.

The Framework synthesizes 18 recommendations and highlights policy levers with the highest potential for systemic emissions reductions that center climate justice and pursue circularity in each of the three consumption areas of food, textiles and appliances.

Created by CNCA and Gai Consulting Inc, together with climate experts from CNCA Cities Adelaide, Boulder, Copenhagen, Glasgow, Helsinki, New York City, Oslo, San Francisco, Stockholm, Vancouver, and the C40 Cities network.


Vancouver Circular Food Economy: Phase 4 tile-image

Vancouver Circular Food Economy: Phase 4

City Lead: Vancouver
Year Completed: 2023

A project to prototype and test circular food waste solutions along Vancouver’s diverse food supply chain.


Consumption and Urban Decarbonization – New Tools and Approaches tile-image

Consumption and Urban Decarbonization – New Tools and Approaches

City Lead: Portland
Year Completed: 2019

This project produced a downloadable consumption-based emissions inventory (CBEI) toolkit to support urban greenhouse gas reduction initiatives.