Rethinking Our Cities To outfit Climate Change


A climate catastrophe is unfolding right now, and we need to take immediate action. With that sombre title came the release of the newest assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (IPCC). 278 specialists and 354 others contributed to the 3000-page paper, which contains 18,000 citations. It’s an incredible feat of science and teamwork.

image via forbes

The document’s language, as well as the explanations that accompany it, is blunt and direct. “Without quick and significant emissions reductions across all sectors, limiting global warming to 1.5°C is beyond reach,” the research states, while noting the progress made so far (e.g. the ever-decreasing prices of solar and wind energy).

It’s encouraging to see the emphasis on solutions in this study, since it shows how we can reduce the expected increase in global temperatures to as little as possible.


From agriculture and transportation to energy and industry, the book covers a wide range of climate change mitigation strategies. Since there are so many contributing factors to climate change – all of which we humans are to responsible for – and since there is no one solution that will work, there is a wide variety of tactics that may be taken to combat the problem. There is no’silver bullet’ answer to climate change, no matter how thrilled you are about a certain technology.

The report’s eighth chapter focuses primarily on metropolitan regions. More over half of the world’s population presently lives in these regions, and that figure is expected to rise to almost 70% by 2050. 67-72% of global GHG emissions will come from these regions by 2020, making them a major contributor to global warming pollution in the future. Over 100 of the world’s worst polluting cities account for 18% of the world’s carbon footprint, according to the UN. Nearly seven times as many emissions are produced per capita by urban residents in ‘Developed Countries’ as those in low-emitting locations.

The only silver lining here is that cities and municipalities have the potential to reduce emissions significantly. Urban mitigation strategies may have a ripple impact on transportation, energy, buildings, land use, and human behaviour. Efforts to mitigate urban sprawl may frequently spill over into the surrounding areas and even other metropolitan regions farther away due to the way that cities are interconnected on a local, regional, and global scale.


Reduced energy consumption across all sectors; Electrification and the switchover to nett zero-emission resources; and Enhancement of carbon stocks (and management of flows) through green-and blue-collar infrastructure are all part of the urban climate change mitigation strategy described in this chapter. Behavior modification is a possible fourth approach; however, this usually comes after the previous three have been successfully put into action.

Enhance the design and connection of cities

Our cities’ carbon footprints are greatly influenced by how we plan and develop them. Low-impact cities share four characteristics: medium to high density housing near employment and commerce centres; a rich mix of land uses; a highly connected street network; and they are easily accessible via multiple modes of transportation, allowing for relatively short travel distances and times. A ‘walkable’ urban shape, among many other advantages, has a high correlation with reduced glasshouse gas emissions. Carbon lock-in, which occurs when “long-lived, energy and carbon-intensive assets remain, sometimes for decades, and lock out more efficient, lower-carbon alternatives,” is less likely to occur.


Many metropolitan regions’ reliance on private automobiles is an excellent illustration of this. Cars aren’t a need of life, but rather a result of decades of prioritisation and investment in the infrastructure needed to support them. Because of this, low-density urban sprawl, where people’s residences are located far from areas of employment, education, and entertainment, has been encouraged by zoning choices and construction patterns. It is also difficult to provide new mass transportation choices because of low-density growth.

Compared to small, walkable communities, established cities are more likely to have greater per capita emissions. Even though it’s difficult, it’s doable. There must be a systematic restructuring and decision-making, major investment in public transportation networks, as well as new (and improved) mixed-use community projects.

Authors claim that “new and growing cities have unequalled potential to become low or nett zero emissions metropolitan regions while attaining excellent quality of life” Rather of tearing down or replacing already-existing infrastructure, new communities are just putting the pieces together. Everything from their building methods to their planning goals is open to them to make smarter, lower-emission decisions.



Leave a Comment