How many times have you heard the term climate change thrown around?

How about greenhouse gas emissions (GHG)?

You've probably come across these two terms, but are you clear on what they mean, or how they are related?

Photo by Li-An Lim on UnsplashPhoto by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

GHG emissions are the main cause of climate change.

And cities are the main contributors to GHG emissions.

Cities are responsible for approximately 70% of global GHG emissions.

What Are Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

  • GHG emissions are released into the atmosphere when fossil fuels are burned.

  • GHG emissions contribute to the Greenhouse Effect, a process in which the sun's heat stays trapped in the atmosphere, increasing the earth's temperature.

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One specific GHG, carbon dioxide (CO2) is the source of approximately 76% of global emissions.

How Does This Relate To Cities?

The Energy sector is the largest contributor to GHG emissions. This sector is a huge part of cities. It includes:

  • Industrial emissions

  • Transportation

  • Buildings

The sector uses fossil fuels, non-renewable energy sources such as coal, oil, and natural gas.

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How Are Cities Helping?

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  • Increasing energy efficiency

  • Changing over to electrical energy for the transportation; building; and production, consumption & waste sectors and activities

Quiz

Through which of the following sectors can cities reduce GHG emissions?

Waste & Industry

Energy

Agriculture, Forestry & Land use

All of these

Cities Leading The Way

Photo by Callum Shaw on Unsplash

The C40, a group of 97 cities, has made public commitments for targeted actions and specific goals to reduce GHG emissions in the transportation; building; and production, consumption, and waste sectors and activities.

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The "C40: Building Energy 2020 Programme" is one example. This commitment is to improve energy efficiency in:

  • Existing buildings: through retrofitting

  • New buildings: by planning energy-efficient buildings, and building with low-carbon, green materials

More Cities Leading The Way

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Some cities are prioritizing low-carbon means of transportation, to reduce privately owned vehicle purchases and use through:

  • Micro-transit ridesharing

  • Electric buses and vehicles

  • Bicycles and scooters

  • Walking

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Some cities are changing their buying practices, as major food purchasers that buy for schools, and city organizations, among others. Some examples:

  • New York City schools enacted a "Meatless Monday" program

  • 210+ member cities of the 'Milan Urban Food Pact, developed programs to promote urban agriculture - reducing emissions caused by long-distance transport of foods

We're All In This Together

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Vote for leaders that will take action in your city to reduce GHG emissions.

In the words of former NYC mayor, and C40 Board President, Michael Bloomberg:

'Vote for leaders who accept science and recognize the importance of this challenge. Call your elected officials and demand clean air and water. Start conversations in your community about why fighting climate change helps public health and the economy—and what we stand to lose unless we act. And little actions—like changing to more efficient lightbulbs and painting roofs white—add up.'

Summary

Now that you have a handle on:

  • The basics of climate change

  • GHG emissions

  • The role that GHG emissions play in urban centres

  • The actions that cities are taking to reduce their carbon footprint

  • How you as a citizen can contribute to the cities' actions

Just by engaging in this Byte, you are an active participant in a global movement of change!

Raising awareness can go a long way when it comes to climate change, so share this Byte with a family member, a friend, or a co-worker, and rally them up for the cause!

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This Byte has been authored by

AT

Amit Timor

Attorney-at-law | Lifelong Learner