Cities Focus on Transportation to Reduce Carbon Emissions - BBC
Home to the majority of the global human population, urban areas make an outsized contribution to carbon emissions. What can they do to reach net zero by the middle of the century?
More than half of the world's population currently live in cities, and by the middle of the century, 68% of all humans on the planet will live in urban areas. Yet already cities are responsible for 60% of our greenhouse gas emissions. As urban populations swell, so will their impact on the climate.
Cities are also among the places most likely to feel the acute impacts of climate change. The masses of concrete, metal and glass in urban areas can make them warmer than the surrounding landscape due to the way they absorb, emit and reflect heat. Water shortages and worsening air pollution threaten to make life in many cities unbearable.
But in response, 25 mega-cities have now pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050. These include Rio de Janeiro, New York, Paris, Oslo, Mexico City, Melbourne, London, Milan, Cape Town, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Copenhagen, and Vancouver. If the world hopes to meet its ambition of limiting global temperature increases to 1.5C by reaching net zero carbon emissions by the middle of the century, other cities will almost certainly have to do the same. So, what will our crowded, bustling metropolises have to do to become carbon neutral?
One of the biggest challenges facing cities are their carbon emissions from transport. Some cities are already trying to reduce these, along with other types of pollution from vehicles, by introducing ultra-Low Emission Zones (ULEZ).
In London, for example, the area covered by ULEZ has recently been expanded 18-fold from just the city center, and it's now the largest zone of its kind in Europe.
The aim is to encourage people to swap to lower-emission vehicles, but these still generate carbon emissions during the manufacturing process. To overcome this, some cities are encouraging people to shun cars altogether. Paris, for example, is creating 650km (400 miles) of new cycle ways and hopes to open up the whole of the city to bicycles by 2026 under a new plan announced by mayor Anne Hidalgo, while the Colombian capital, Bogota, has made 75 miles of streets car-free.