Cities central to climate action

19th December 2014

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  • Adaptation


Steven King

Cities will be critical to tackling climate change, according to a series of new studies from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.

The commission calculates that, by 2030, the world’s 724 largest cities could reduce greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions by up to 1.4 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually through better, more efficient transport systems.

It also says that adopting low-carbon technologies, such as new building technologies and electric buses, in 30 megacities could create more than 2 million jobs, and avoid 3 billion tonnes of GHG emissions and 3 million tonnes of local air pollution by 2025.

“Over the next two decades, cities will grow by over a billion people. If this rapid urban growth is managed badly, we face a world of sprawling, inefficient, polluted cities – and a major climate change risk. But a new breed of cities is emerging with compact, connected development – innovative cities that are more productive, attractive and low carbon,” said Graham Floater, the commission’s director of cities research.

It cites Stockholm (pictured) as an example of what can be achieved, revealing that the Swedish capital reduced its GHG emissions by 35% between 1993 and 2010, while growing its economy by 41%.

Meanwhile, Arup’s Future of highways report considers the consequences of rapid urbanisation up to 2050 and how climate change, resource depletion and changes in behaviour will shape roads in the future.

It suggests that existing road surfaces could be replaced with advanced solar panels, which would generate clean and renewable power and wirelessly charge electric cars as they are driving or are parked.

In a separate report, WSP argues that London’s air pollution could be reduced by over a third, carbon emissions cut by 80% and noise pollution reduced significantly, if it was to switch to only electric forms of heating and transportation by 2035.


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