A 2011 study by the UN found that the world’s major cities could be responsible for over 70% of global CO2 emissions. It’s also estimated that 66% of the world’s population could be living in urban areas by 2050.
While urban areas may represent a large percentage of the world’s CO2 emissions, they could also hold the solution. Last year, one study found that 6,000 cities had already reduced their carbon emissions by 20%, as set forth by the EU global action plan. Cities, such as Copenhagen, Bristol, and Essen have led the way, being declared the European Green Capitals by the EU commission in the past three years.
With rising consumer demand to go green, the benefits of cultivating sustainability in your city are endless. Not only does your city attract wealthy entrepreneurs who are seeking to work in sustainable spaces, but it also increases the real estate value of your city, making everyone a little bit richer. What can we learn from these model cities to make cities across the world more eco-friendly?
Cities with robust train and metro networks enjoy less CO2 emissions than areas like Los Angeles and Philadelphia that rely on cars for a lot of travel. Electric powered metros and bullet trains are also being developed in cities across the country and seek to greatly reduce CO2 emissions and provide consumers with cheaper transportation options.
Promoting bike lanes and bike sharing programs is a great way to get people away from buying a car. Cities, such as Copenhagen and Seattle, have become notorious for their bike friendly policies that provide cheap alternatives for travel. Even carpool only lanes help to incentivize people to carpool for faster transport.
In a higher density area and smaller geographic location, people are more likely to skip purchasing a car altogether and simply walk. Providing public transportation in areas with high foot traffic also encourages people to simply opt for the subway to make it to commercial and downtown districts in your town.
Creating open spaces for people to walk around and setting up farmers markets and commercial stores in these space also encourages people to walk to the most important areas of your city. These serve as great attractions in your city where artwork and public events can be held.
Creating emissions standards, energy benchmarking policies, and robust recycling programs incentivizes energy efficient and eco-friendly urban development projects. Tax-credits and emissions standards create incentives for private businesses to go green to comply with regulation and save money.
Consider that buildings are responsible 39% of global CO2 emissions. Generating electricity using renewable energy is a great way for buildings to meet emissions standards.
Cities can greatly benefit from hiring an energy consultant to help them achieve sustainable energy solutions moving forward. Using data analytics solutions, cities can track their energy consumption and identify areas where energy efficient programs can be implemented.
Finally, no city can obtain carbon neutral status without a little flora lying around. Public parks and green spaces are a great way to filter CO2 emissions from the air and promote sustainability in your city. People are also more inclined to commit to sustainable practices when they feel a connected to nature and their surrounding area.