Thursday, October 2, 2014

How does Urbanization Affect Carbon Emissions and Climate Change Mitigation?

Although an important factor, there is a compl...
Although an important factor, there is a complex relationship between urban densities and car use. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Urbanization and the carbon cycle: Contributions from social science (49 page pdf, Peter J. Marcotullio, Sara Hughes, Andrea Sarzynski3, Stephanie Pincetl, Landy Sanchez Peña5, Patricia Romero-Lankao, Daniel Runfola andKaren C. Seto, Earth's Future, Aug. 20, 2014) 

Today we review research into the links between various forms of urbanization and carbon emissions, a particularly important issue given the need to reduce these emissions in a world that is rapidly becoming more urban. The paper examines the social relationships and such questions as the size of cities, the impact of higher incomes, aging, household size and the potential impact of urban planning- the aging process alone may reduce emissions by up to 20% and the trend toward an older society will be an important factor to consider along with the future shape of cities.

Key Quotes: 

“changes in a societies’ economic structure, advances in technologies and differential levels of productivity amongst sectors that accompany economic growth… help to push people away from rural areas and pull people to live in cities”“firms and individuals also respond to congestion, noise, stress, crime, disease, and pollution, which can increase costs and reduce the attractiveness of cities” 

 “urban areas with larger population sizes have proportionally smaller energy infrastructures than smaller cities… Other evidence suggests that GHG emissions may increase more than proportionally to population size, such that larger cities exhibit proportionally higher energy demand as they grow than do smaller cities” 

Economic activity levels vary over a person’s lifetime, and mobility patterns and energy consumption adjust to changing household needs, time use and expectations” 

 “the aging process alone can reduce emissions in the long term (100 year timeline) by up to 20%, particularly in industrialized regions…. projection estimates that 25% of populations will be over the age of 60 by 2050, compared to 10% in 2000. ” 

“Household size is also an important quality of urban populations that affects the relationship between urbanization and the carbon cycle.. urban populations typically have smaller household sizes than rural populations, andhousehold size is decreasing globally” 

 “In the developed world, the inability of local power brokers in New York City for example, to develop highways in the urban core ..had lasting impact on transit use and subsequent motor vehicle use” 

“zoning regulations and land use plans help to determine urban form, leading to a variety of interconnected outcomes, which can shape energy use and net GHG emissions.” 

 “local climate change actions have the potential to reshape cities in ways that further marginalize disadvantaged urban populations, a dynamic that has been understudied by social scientists” 

 “In almost all cases, scholars have worked within disciplinary boundaries at the expense of developing a holistic, process-based definition of urbanization”

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