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Climate Change and Cities: What We Need to Do

By Bruce Race,
October 15, 2018

On October 6, 2018, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a special report in support of a global response to keep global warming to less than 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels. Widely reported in popular media, the Summary for Policymakers (SMP) provided a clear warning ­­- we need to act fast and decisively.

The October 2018 IPCC Summary to Policymakers indicates we must reduce our GHG emissions by 45% before 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2075.

Climate Scientists’ Projections

The IPCC scientific team’s current projections indicate we have little over a decade to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid catastrophic climate change. We need to make a “rapid and far-reaching transition in energy, land, urban and infrastructure (including transport and buildings), and industrial systems” to avoid surpassing a 1.5ºC increase in global temperatures by 2050. Meeting the 1.5ºC or less target is critical for reducing climate impacts and reducing the costs for adaptation.

The latest report indicates we must reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 45% by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2075. Based on our current efforts, these seem like audacious goals. However, not meeting them means we can expect continued increase in extreme weather events and coastal flooding, impacts on food security and loss of biodiversity and unique ecosystems that also support people.

Meeting the goals is ambitious but not impossible. In fact, we already know a lot about what we need to do. Mostly, it will require rethinking the way we live, work and travel around the world’s cities, which account for about 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Interesting efforts already are underway.

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