Big cities, aside from boasting sizable populations, also account for most of the globe’s carbon emissions – the direct result of climate change. Climate change ranks chief among our global concerns, and is connected to many other problems; economic, social and environmental challenges plaguing the planet. Luckily, a number of major cities are coming up with major solutions.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tells us that we have a mere 12 years to form a substantial response to climate change. Research from 100 Resilient Cities has concluded that the total land area occupied by cities is predicted to double by 2070. In the developed world, a good deal of the civil infrastructure is getting older and more ineffective, whereas in the developing world, it is frequently absent. The World Economic Forum estimates that the planet will confront a $15 trillion “infrastructure gap” by the year 2040.

We must examine how future generations will live, work and play, seeing our cities in a whole new way and planning accordingly. How will we render our cities carbon neutral and immune to climate change? We will only find the answer by collaborating across industries and sectors—working together to make the changes needed to defeat the change.

We first must examine the connection between our changing climate and the mandatory assets which create the core of our urban infrastructure. Every city offers assets that intensify carbon emissions, like fossil fuel-reliant energy sources, weak or absent residential and business waste management, outdated and insufficient transportation networks, and energy-deficient utilities like water and wastewater treatment. These elements must be counteracted by way of carbon-efficient sustainable solutions that are effectively coordinated, working together to the best effect to create a sustainable city infrastructure that will fit the future.

Every day we witness miracles of modern technology that, or so we hope, will ensure a better tomorrow for our children and grandchildren.

  • In London, the creation of ultra-low emission zones—one that involves a shift in in traffic management- has resulted in lowered carbon emissions, better air quality and improved overall health for those who live in one of the world’s most celebrated cities.
  • New York is set to be the inaugural US city to test the policy of congestion pricing, charging drivers to come into Manhattan. At the end of last year, Los Angeles set into motion a vigorous city-led sustainable transportation plan. By 2028, all new automobiles and city buses must be electric. This commitment is coupled with a congestion strategy to address always hectic LA traffic. San Francisco, for its part, is rendering main streets and zones pedestrian friendly.
  • In the UAE, high-speed rail company Etihad Rail intends to connect urban centers and reduce carbon emissions by removing cars from the streets; providing a living illustration of connected transportation modelling.
  • The city of Edinburgh in the UK has finished a revolutionary study regarding climate action. Edinburgh, a United Nations World Heritage Site, was constructed in accordance with medieval planning principles. Edinburgh City Council seeks to recoordinate the city toward the goal of economic growth, while rendering public space, public transport and pedestrian and bicycle routes a higher priority. This plan demonstrates the integration of multi-disciplinary urban planning and design processes. The study outcomes will be applied to the development of efficient central infrastructure, enhancing air quality and lessoning carbon emissions.
  • When it comes to city buildings, the most intense carbon emission impact is produced by way of poor insulation or extreme dependency on cooling. This is why many nations are conjuring novel methods of sustainable building design. Scandinavian nations are integrating state-of-the-art sustainability into new building designs, but—in regards to standing buildings–Brazil and the State of Parana have vowed to morph all public buildings to net-zero energy, including 180 schools, by way of energy-efficiency measures that include the production of renewable energy as an integrated approach.
  • Germany has committed to master the possibilities of renewable energy drawn from the wind. Germany is launching a cable connecter – SüdLink – to introduce renewable energy to those who live in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg.

We must come together as a global community, working as one to make the change that will defeat the change.