C40 research warns of urban emissions risk

24th June 2019 Adam Pitt

New research published by C40 Cities has warned that cities may have a greater influence over global emissions than was previously thought.

A report based on the research, which was undertaken in partnership with Arup and the University of Leeds, revealed how the world’s 100 biggest cities are responsible for around 10 percent of all emissions, despite having taken positive steps to reduce their output.

The report, entitled The Future of Urban Consumption in a 1.5°C World, also acknowledged that 85 percent of the emissions associated with goods and services consumed within the C40 network are imported.

This figure will need to be reduced by at least two-thirds in high-income cities by 2030 in order to ensure global temperature rises remain below 1.5°C, according to the authors.

“Stopping the climate crisis requires keeping global temperature rise to below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels [and] transforming the global economy to deliver on that goal will require action on a scale never seen before in peacetime,” said Mark Watts, Executive Director of C40 Cities.

Despite the size of the task at hand, the report says slashing emissions by 50 percent in six sectors, including food, construction, clothing, vehicles, aviation, and electronics, would be enough to generate 1.5 GtCO2e in emissions cuts–equivalent to one third of all savings required to limit global temperature rises.

Crucially, the report suggests that reducing consumption in these areas could save a city like London more than US$11 billion over the next five years by optimising the efficiency and use of existing buildings and avoiding new construction.

Other potential benefits include freeing up 170 million square metres of on-street parking in C40 cities by limiting private vehicle ownership, allowing for 2.5 million trees and 25,000 kilometres of cycle lanes to be introduced.

“Cities have a unique opportunity to deliver mitigation options in addition to national action,” said Professor John Barrett, Chair of Sustainability Research at the University of Leeds.

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