; What role do cities play in climate change? - Strive

Focus on buildings

We often emphasize the importance of the private sector when discussing climate change, but cities also play a crucial role in achieving our goals. The CDP reported that “[c]ity authorities often lack full regulatory control of emissions within their boundaries, with some cities directly controlling just 4% of their carbon emissions through their own estates”. Climate change poses a threat to cities, causing heat waves, droughts, floods, and other natural disasters. For the sake of their inhabitants, cities must act quickly to address these concerns. There is a need for climate change adaptation and mitigation due to the increase in urban population and the escalating climate crisis. To reduce the impact cities, play on climate change, we should focus on two key factors: Buildings and Transportation. For this article, we will focus on Buildings.

What role do cities play?

Cities play a key role in climate change as they are responsible for 75% of global CO2e emissions, with transport and buildings being the major contributors. According to the European Commission, the European Union is responsible for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of GHG emissions, coming from construction, usage, renovation, and demolition. In large cities, where there is an agglomeration of buildings, we can see the effects on climate change, where the “building sector is a key contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, representing around one-third of energy-related EU emissions”. This is due, in part, to the types of fuel used, as well as the heating and electricity demand of buildings.

What can they do?

When we talk about green cities, we need to look at the impact of buildings. By the 1st of January 2030, the EU wants to transition from the current nearly zero-energy buildings to zero-emission buildings, which will apply to all new buildings, and by the 1st of January 2027 to all new buildings owned or occupied by public authorities. To make this change, urban planning needs to plan for the changing demands of the current and future climate situation. Cities should lead by example and engage in refurbishment works and implement a building management system to save energy and money. Cities can count on the support of a global network of mayors tackling the climate crisis, through C40. To plan for this, cities require a move toward low carbon footprint infrastructure as well as an adaptation with infrastructures resilient in the future climate.

How can Strive help?

At Strive we help cities and companies to understand their emissions and initiate their path to sustainability. To do this, we calculate their carbon footprint and once we have the final number of emissions, we plan a reduction strategy so that they can reach their climate targets by 2050 or even sooner. Without cities, we will not be able to reach these targets. Cities must analyse the source of building emissions and start addressing those sources with a higher CO2e impact before they can begin investing appropriately.

To sum up, cities play a role with other actors through their platforms of collaboration together with legislature and financing and should, therefore, take a step forward in tackling their building emissions to ensure cities are habitable in the future. Towards the future, there should be a focus on what each type of city can do, based on its size, budget, and development, as no two cities are exactly alike. This way we can ensure growth while making sure no one is left behind as we move forward in the just transition.

Written by Macarena de Arriba Cadahía