Zero Carbon Cities?

The Context:

Nowadays, cities are both climate-culprit and climate-victim. They have already been responsible for 70% of global energy-related greenhouse issues, 65% of global energy demand. However, accounting for more than three-quarters of electricity by 2030.

Investments in low-carbon city projects have their own significant benefits for urban and rural citizens alike. $1 trillion is spent per year by cities on 11 types of low carbon projects producing $17 trillion in net present financial value through 2050, just by direct energy saving alone. By 2050, about 70 percent of the world’s population will be a part of the cities or be living in cities globally. And they all will have their lives around them – sleeping, eating, traveling from home to work or school, etc.

No matter what activity you carry on, all these experiences cost a lot of energy. That is, it costs a lot of carbon. Using innovative technologies and policies that already exist today, cities can cut their carbon emissions by 90 percent by 2050 — putting us in a deep cut in global emissions, getting us to about 60 percent, warming beyond 2 degrees, as put forth a target my an agreement in 2015.

A comprehensive report to date points out, implementing low carbon measures in cities will be worth $24 trillion by 2050 and could reduce emissions from cities by 90 percent. The report is said to be really critical involving national governments in achieving equitable and sustainable economic development in cities.

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Reducing City Emissions:

More than 70 cities worldwide have pledged to become ‘carbon neutral’ by 2050, aiming to produce no more climate-changing emissions. Every city has its own way of handling this goal.

As of now, cities account for about three-quarters of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions; whether they succeed or fail, it will have a drastically massive impact on where the goals are met. Following are some examples being practiced globally:

  1. Qatar’s low carbon city: As you might be knowing, gas-rich Qatar emits more carbon dioxide per person than any country worldwide. Aiming to become one of the largest sustainable cities in the world with green features like rainwater harvesting to shady overhangs making the outdoors cooler. Many structures have been fitted with solar panels. Solar water heaters and overhangs designed to shade the surrounding sidewalks. Other features include- underground waste collection stations, well-planned transport in the city for the new mixed-use district.
  2. Rotterdam’s greener port: One of the busiest ports in Europe is set to curb global warming. Financial incentives were introduced for fume-belching ships and other port facilities to invest in renewable power, slashing carbon dioxide emissions from the shipping industry by 49 percent by 2030. The greening port facilities are heavily reliant on fossil fuels. Since 2017, all ships that dock at Rotterdam port have received a score out of 100 based on how much nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide they emit.
  3. Rio De Janeiro Captures Gas: At a huge waste treatment plant outside of the famed beach city, methane gas is released by buried garbage. Every day, 10,000 tons of waste is unloaded about 60 kilometers northwest of Rio de Janeiro. They are capturing methane gas from garbage to burn for energy is helping the city cut its climate-changing emissions.
  4. Philippine’s Zero carbon resort: The bringing in of island’s Zero Carbon Resorts program gave the 15-room resort minimum energy and solar costs with the help of solar panels, LED lights, and rainwater harvesting. They were no significant changes, but they were able to cut their electricity and water by a fair amount. In 2011, Puerto Princesa became the first Southeast Asian city to earn a ‘zero carbon’ label.
  5. Cycling city Copenhagen: Copenhagen becomes the first carbon-neutral capital around the globe. As other cities have parking garages for cars, Copenhagen has them for bicycles. Virtually all its 600,000 residents own a bicycle, and the city has 375 km of dedicated cycle lanes. The city’s concerted efforts to go green put it firmly ahead of schedule set by 200 nations to effectively phase out greenhouse gases between 2050 and 2100. Running its own energy systems is one of the reasons Copenhagen is already well on track to being carbon neutral.
  6. Paris’s eco-district: The Batignolles area, a former industrial wasteland, has been transferred into an eco-neighborhood, a model of sustainable development for the rest of the city. Paris is one of the more than 70 cities worldwide that have pledged to become ‘carbon neutral’ by 2050.
  7. Big cities make a vow: All the big cities from London to Tokyo are striving to put regulations in place for all buildings to be carbon neutral by 2030 and the existing ones to reach the same goal by 2050. London, Los Angeles, and Paris share are as high as 70 percent of all greenhouse emissions. Buildings that are net carbon neutral are powered by renewable sources consuming little energy, typically using LED lights and winter insulation.

Practicing Low Carbon Emissions:

In a report’s calculations, 30 percent of all urban emissions could be cut by 2050 by making buildings more efficient. And another 30 could be gained by electrifying the significant energy sources which run on fossil fuel power like heating and cooling systems, lights, and stoves with renewable sources like solar or wind. So, how do we do it?

  1. Optimize: Make urban energy use more efficient across all sectors – buildings and transportation. Energy efficiency is still the best option as it is the cheapest. Switching to innovative technologies, even more, innovative than LED lighting.
  2. Electrify: Switch to electricity for all aspects of transportation and buildings from fossil fuels.
  3. Decarbonize: Cities shall incentivize a transition to clean, zero-carbon energy sources for producing electricity like solar and wind. Energy management and electric vehicles make a shift to clean electricity possible for nearly all uses. They also make it feasible for cities to optimize their energy loads by time-of-day.

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Benefits in Investing in Zero-carbon:

Zero-carbon cities will offer countries a competitive advantage as they seek to attract global talent and investment. In addition to the economic benefits, compact, connected, and clean cities provide higher standards of living. Investments in low carbon measures in cities could support 87 million jobs by 2030.

Nearly 10,000 cities and local governments have committed to set emissions reduction targets. Investing in city cycling infrastructure can save five times the cost of investment by improving public health and reducing traffic congestion. For example, across Europe, the health benefits from cycling could be worth 35-136 billion US dollars annually.

Directing the investments to make new and existing buildings energy efficient could create up to 16 million additional jobs a year worldwide. When the environments will be improved, naturally, there would be lower rates of illness- saving health bills and making workers up to 16 percent more productive.

Furthermore, these different types of initiatives will benefit the poor, low-income groups, and buildings with chronic air pollution. This ambitious initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will improve the living conditions across the globe. For buildings, reducing the emissions like controlling directly by erecting better insulation walls, is halfway to their goal. But to achieve this, the building needs to run completely on green electricity.

There will, of course, be questions among common people for achieving the zero city goal. Creating worldwide opportunities in new technologies, food research, and production, health care, will in order to educate people and provide jobs as well. The plans for developing the urban cities are already in place, and it’s just a matter of time to know how far it goes.

To know more about Architecture Technology, Stay Tuned. 

Previous Coverage:

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  3. Co-Living, A buzzword of 21st Century!
  4. Urban Segregation: Data from 350,000 Smartphones Used
  5. Beyond Imagination: 21st Century’s Emerging Tech for Architecture & Design

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An Architect by profession & practice, Pranita is a keen observer and specialises in content, visualisation, and presentation. Cyber attacks & Architecture Technology in the far more technologically-advanced world made her realise that there is a lack of necessary awareness among people. Hence, keeping you all updated and protected by all means with subjects from Architecture Technology to Security Awareness.Currently working as a Head of Content, content writer & creator at BLARROW.TECH

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