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The Rio de Janeiro Low Carbon City Development Program - A Business Model for Green and Climate-Friendly Growth in Cities. More soon...




The Rio de Janeiro Low Carbon City Development Program is an ISO-certified framework and set of comprehensive requirements to help the city to plan, implement, monitor, and account for low carbon investments and climate change mitigation actions across all sectors in the city over time.

The Program will enable the city to plan and implement the mitigation actions needed to achieve its city-wide mitigation goals, as well as credibly and transparently demonstrate the achievement of those goals through diligent monitoring and accounting of the actions taken. These mitigation actions are municipality-driven activities, called interventions, including policies and project developments that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Climate finance is expected to play an essential role in catalyzing future investments in low carbon city development.

The Rio Low Carbon City Development Program goes beyond the approach seen in the past in municipalities and other organizations that focused on isolated actions, such as individual carbon offset projects, individual policies, etc. The Program includes a broader scope starting at the strategic planning level: establishing clear objectives and targets that ensure interventions to reduce emissions are integrated with other strategic actions in the city.

The Program is integrated with Rio's climate change mitigation goals, Rio's strategic plan, and the expected investments ahead of the World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympics in 2016

The various components of the Program, described below in further detail, aggregate to form a 'carbon lens' that enables the city to implement its forthcoming projects and policies in a low-carbon way, as well as quantify and monitor the reductions in emissions over time. Accordingly, it is envisaged that the targets and actions under the Program will be closely aligned and incentivized through the overall municipal management structure that supports the implementation of Rio’s strategic plan.

Key actor

Grassroots neighborhood organizations

What actions do you propose?


The foundation of the Rio Low Carbon City Development Program is its clearly defined municipal institutions and processes, which operate together to provide the framework that enables Rio to plan, implement, monitor, and account for its mitigation actions. As described in further detail below, there are clearly characterized Program Roles, processes for Program Planning and Evaluation, and each new activity that reduces emissions—called an intervention—goes through the same five-step Program Process. Taken together, these form the organizational structure of the ISO-certified Rio Program and constitute the Low Carbon City Development Program business model that can be implemented in cities around the world.


Program Planning and Evaluation

Program Planning helps to define the Program’s objectives, targets, and an implementation strategy. Program Evaluation involves reflecting on the progress towards the objectives and targets, as well as the overall Program Roles and Process, to ensure that the Program continues to meet the needs of the city. As the CME, the Mayor’s Office on Rio coordinates the Program’s implementation strategy. Implementation will take place intensively over the next two to four years, and a longer term operational period is expected (e.g., 20 years). Program Evaluation of the Rio Program will initially occur every year during the intensive implementation period.

Program Process

Every intervention must follow the 5-step Program Process shown in the figure above. The Program Process prescribes the procedures and criteria against which interventions interare

assessed to be registered in the Program, as well as the process of monitoring, reporting, and verifying the emission reductions generated by interventions. The Program Process has five general steps:

  1. Identify interventions: The CME works with the MWG to identify interventions. An intervention must meet the intervention eligibility criteria to be included in the Program.
  2. Quantify Emission Reductions: An estimate of the quantity of emission reductions that the intervention will produce is conducted by the TAE. The TAE determines the most appropriate methodology to use for calculations. Any existing carbon finance methodology approved for use by an ISO-14064 compatible carbon standard (such as the Verified Carbon Standard, or the Clean Development Mechanism) may be used. Should a methodology not exist under any carbon standard for the intervention, a new methodology may be suggested that fulfills the methodology assessment criteria.
  3. Decision-making (retire or sell): The CME works with the MWG to make a decision about whether to retire the intervention’s emission reductions towards the city’s target (in accordance with its climate change law) or to sell them to an outside buyer to generate revenue from climate finance. Each unit of emission reduction must have only one final destination to prevent double-counting.
  4. Validate/verify: The intervention and its emission reductions must undergo validation to ensure quality and integrity. The VVE conducts the assessment, validating the intervention’s compliance with the intervention eligibility criteria and the methodology used for calculations. The assessment verifies that the intervention is on track to produce emission reductions as planned. If the intervention seeks to generate carbon assets such as Certified Emission Reductions or Verified Carbon Units3, it must also fulfill all the criteria imposed by the relevant regulatory body.
  5. Monitor, report, and exercise quality control: Every intervention and its emission reductions must be monitored over the lifetime of the Program. Monitoring, reporting, and quality control, as well as all the data collection, analysis, and storage, is conducted for each intervention, then bundled and managed by the IME through the Program’s monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) system. Different municipal departments feed data about interventions and baselines into the MRV system, which performs the analysis for calculation of emission reductions. The CME and VVE can access the MRV system to track the implementation of interventions and monitor/verify emission reductions produced by the interventions.



An intervention under the Low Carbon City Development Program may be any activity that reduces emissions, including projects as well as municipal policies, from any urban sector4. In this sense, the Program has the potential to expand horizontally over time to include a wide range of municipal activities—institutionalizing a ‘carbon lens’ through which ultimately all municipal activities may be viewed. The first projects that embark on the Program Process will allow the city to demonstrate how the Program works in practice.

Who will take these actions?


The Low Carbon City Development Program has five Program Roles with fixed responsibilities and requirements.

Coordinating Management Entity (CME): The CME is the central body within the municipality that oversees the coordination and management of the Program. It is housed strategically at a sufficiently high level in the municipal government to have coordinating authority across all municipal departments. Fulfilling this role in Rio: The Mayor’s Office (known as ‘Casa Civil’).

Information Management Entity (IME): The IME is the central body that coordinates and manages all information and data related to the Program. The IME must ideally have both coordinating capabilities with all municipal departments and experience collecting and managing large quantities of data. Fulfilling this role in Rio: Instituto Pereira Passos (IPP), which is responsible for Rio’s urban planning.

Multi-Sector Municipal Working Group (MWG): The MWG is a working group consisting of members from across the municipality with multiple areas of relevant expertise. It acts as an advisory committee to the CME. The composition and attendance of the MWG may vary from intervention to intervention, but it will always be coordinated by the CME.

Technical Advisory Entity (TAE): The TAE is an entity or consultant with technical expertise in the quantification of emission reductions. It provides the necessary technical input to help move an intervention forward through the Program Process.

Validation and Verification Entity (VVE): The VVE is an ISO-accredited environmental auditor. It validates and verifies the emission reductions generated by interventions under the Program. The VVE must operate externally and independently of the CME. While an entity may have sufficient expertise to act as both a TAE and a VVE, for any given intervention the TAE and the VVE must not be the same entity to insure integrity in the audit process and avoid conflict of interest.

Where will these actions be taken?

In the City of Rio de Janeiro.

How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?


The Municipal Law on Climate Change and Sustainable Development (Law No. 5.248), passed on January 27, 2011, set the quantities for Rio’s voluntary GHG reduction targets at 8%, 16% and 20% of 2005 emission levels for the years 2012, 2016 and 2020, respectively. These targets are for absolute volumes of emission reductions (expressed in tons of CO2e reduced) to be cumulatively achieved by the end of the respective reporting year.

Rio’s most recent GHG inventory conducted by COPPE, the post-graduate engineering research department of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, found that 2005 emissions were 11,351.9 ktCO2e in total (COPPE and Rio Prefeitura, 2011). Therefore, the targets correspond to cumulative emissions reductions of 908 ktCO2e to be reduced by end of 2012, 1,816 ktCO2e to be reduced by 2016, and 2,270 ktCO2e to be reduced by 2020.


What are other key benefits?


In the long term, Rio's Low Carbon City Development Program will contribute to plans for green, low-carbon economic growth and job creation in the city, while upgrading the urban infrastructure and improving environmental quality. This will be achieved mainly through a targeted set of planning and selection priorities when assessing future investments, supported by the institutional structure, managerial practices, and standards put in place through the Low Carbon City Development Program. In the medium to longer term, Rio aims for a low-carbon environmental goods and services industry2 that would rival London's, which currently has more than 9,200 companies, more than 160,000 jobs, and more than £24 billion (US$39 billion) in revenue (BIS 2012).

What are the proposal’s costs?

Time line

Related proposals


COPPE and Rio Prefeitura. 2011. Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Emissions Scenario of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Technical Summary.Available: 08/23/2012).

United Kingdom Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills(BIS). 2012. Low Carbon Environmental Goods and Services: Reportfor 2010/11. Available: