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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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Study Says Rethinking Cities Is Key to Climate Change
25 January 2011 5:30 pm
Cities generate most of the world's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. So changing their configuration and altering the lifestyles of urban dwellers can have a major impact on mitigating those emissions and reducing their contribution to global warming, according to a new study led by analysts at the World Bank in Washington, D.C.
Today's urban residents make up half of the world's population but account for 71% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. That fraction is expected to rise to 76% by 2030. To better understand today's sources of greenhouse gases, Daniel Hoornweg and his colleagues compiled a GHG emissions inventory for 100 cities in countries around the world.
They found that annual per capita emissions range from the equivalent of 30 metric tons to 0.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide. The disparity is due not just to consumption patterns but also to the urban environment itself, they note in an article released online this month in Environment and Urbanization. Residents of New York City generate half the per capita emissions of greenhouse gas emissions as their urban counterparts in Denver, for example, while per capita emissions for residents of downtown Toronto, Canada, are one-tenth that of their suburban neighbors. "The vast majority of emissions are associated with the lifestyles of the rich, including where they choose to live," says Hoornweg.
The authors suggest that urban planners in fast-growing cities in China and elsewhere could best mitigate emissions by building infrastructure and housing that result in densely populated yet livable city centers. On a broader scale, cities and regions could cooperate by insisting upon greener sources of electrical power. "There's a lot of fundamental change that could result from redesigning cities and their infrastructure," says Christopher Kennedy, a civil engineer at the University of Toronto.