Cities take the lead by setting emission reduction targets

Cities are responsible for a large chunk of greenhouse gas emissions due to concentration of economic activity.

More than 200 cities with a combined population of 439 million have set greenhouse gas emission reduction goals for themselves so far, contributing to their countries’ overall climate action pledges included in the Paris Agreement. Cities have come together under many initiatives such as the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and the Compact of Mayors, launched at the 2014 United Nations Climate Summit.

A report titled “Can a City Be Sustainable?” by US-based research organisation Worldwatch Institute has highlighted the sustainability efforts of some of these cities. The list includes Shanghai in China, Melbourne in Australia, Ahmedabad and Pune in India and Vancouver in Canada.

“The challenge over the next several decades is an enormous one,” write Michael Renner and Tom Prugh, contributing authors and co-directors of the report. “This requires not change around the edges, but a fundamental restructuring of how cities operate, how much they consume in resources and how much waste they produce, what they look like, and how they are structured.”

The report has elaborated on the challenges that cities will face in the coming decades. Policies will have to take into account problems such as energy shortage and inefficient use, buildings as guzzlers of water and energy, inadequate transport systems, waste management and recycling, deforestation, changes in land use and social injustice while preparing strategies towards sustainability.

Financing for these measures will also be a matter of concern. Out of 80 cities under C40, only three-quarters have budgetary control over property or municipal taxes. Poorer cities may have to depend on loans from development banks and donor aid to meet their goals.

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