New IPCC Report Says "Green Up, Cities"
The latest UN climate report from the IPCC released this week has plenty of takeaways, including a message for cities: they must clean up their emissions. Especially as people increasingly live in urban areas. Making transportation cleaner is among the best ways to achieve this, and that doesn’t mean just electrifying car transportation. Cities have the opportunity to make biking, walking, and (electrified) public transit the preferred way to get around. According to the report, these shifts could slash city emissions by 25%.
Other opportunities include retrofitting buildings to be more energy efficient; redesigning waste handling; and increasing "green infrastructure” such as building parks, planting trees, and setting up green roofs.
Why This Matters
Cities accounted for as much as 72% of global emissions in 2020, so how they are designed and used matters immensely for hitting climate targets. And if changes aren’t made now, emissions are only expected to increase through 2050, as are populations and the amount of developed land.
The report also recognizes cities as "major catalysts of change.” For example, Paris was capable of transforming its streets to be much more bike-friendly throughout the pandemic.
"If you want to resolve the climate crisis, you need to resolve cities. It’s simple,” said Rogier van den Berg to Fast Company. He is the acting global director for the Ross Center for Sustainable Cities at the nonprofit World Resources Institute.
Greener Cities, Happier People
Solutions for reducing carbon emissions in cities have also proven to make people happier. Researchers at the University of British Columbia are exploring how taking personal climate actions (like biking instead of driving or reducing meat consumption) can make people feel better. Their work has led to the creation of a workshop that guides people in figuring out what changes they can make in their own lives.
As Dr. Elizabeth Dunn, one of the workshop’s co-founders, put it to Atmos, People are going to have to make substantial behavioral changes to tackle climate change, which also creates an opportunity for people to change in ways that are good for their happiness.”