Published on 24 November 2016, the journal article titled “Urban
infrastructure choices structure climate solutions” adds that urban
planning is key to achieving the two-degree target. The study
aggregates existing data to show that the highest emission reduction
globally potential is from the use of new energy-efficient
infrastructures. The annual global reductions that may be achieved by
the year 2040 when using new infrastructures is three to four times
higher than that of upgrading existing urban infrastructures. Moreover,
the very act of building these new infrastructures will invariably
involve introducing new CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.
It is important to appreciate that buildings have lifelines longer
than 40 years, while transport structures can span centuries, Dr.
Dhakal says. The challenge for urban planners is to provide citizens
with shorter travel distances, using low-carbon transport modes,
establishing inner-city tolls, higher gasoline taxes, and incorporating
architectural and technological upgrades of buildings, especially in
Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
The importance of cities in limiting a global temperature rise to two
degrees is stressed by the lead author of the paper Dr. Felix Creutzig
from Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change
(MCC) who says: “If the world made a dedicated effort to seize the
existing opportunities within the next 15 years to upgrade its cities’
infrastructures, urban planning will become a key arena for achieving
ambitious climate change.”
Most climate protection plans consider the transport and building
sector as separate identities that are addressed only at the national
or federal level. However, this study takes a closer look at the
municipal level. It assesses a city’s climate change mitigation
potential on the basis of three parameters, namely, the emissions
savings following upgrades to existing infrastructure, emissions
savings from using energy-efficient new infrastructure, and additional
emissions generated by the construction of this new infrastructure.
To embark on this “green” path, cities around the world need to
incentivize the construction of higher-density, energy-efficient
housing and implement new mobility concepts such as car sharing,
electric cars and bicycles, and bike paths, says Dr. Dhakal. “Even in
cities such as Bangkok considerable emissions reductions can be
achieved through the energy-efficient refurbishment of existing
infrastructure and the development of new mobility schemes”, adds Dr.
The research is jointly authored by Felix Creutzig of Mercator
Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, Berlin,
Germany; Peter Agoston of Technische Universität Berlin, Germany; Jan
C. Minx of Hertie School of Governance,Berlin, Germany; Josep G.
Canadell of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research
Organisation, Canberra, Australia; Robbie M. Andrew of Center for
International Climate and Environmental Research, Oslo, Norway; Corinne
Le Quéré of Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of
East Anglia, UK; Glen P. Peters of Center for International Climate and
Environmental Research, Oslo, Norway; Ayyoob Sharifi of National
Institute of Environmental Studies, Japan; and Shobhakar Dhakal of
Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand.
The article is online at this link: