A five-step-plan for a low carbon urban development WWF ERicsson, 2009
Solving the climate challenge is very much tied to infrastructure and urban development. Last year marked a shift in human history with more than half of the world's population living in urban, not rural, areas for the first time. This trend will continue. In 40 years’ time 70% of the global population will live in cities. This trend will result in massive investments and shape the global resource use.
Most of the focus in climate discussions so far has been on how to incrementally reduce the emissions from big polluting industries, without negatively impacting the economy. Such a focus on emission reductions is of course necessary. But there is an untapped opportunity to drive economic growth while at the same time making transformative emissions reductions by focusing on cities and urban infrastructure development.
Innovations and opportunities
By shifting from a product to a service perspective we can use the connectivity of a 21st century infrastructure to provide many of the services people and businesses need, instead of only replacing products with marginally better ones. Economic development and carbon reductions can not only go hand in hand, they can also strengthen each other. What is needed in order for this to happen is an innovation driven approach which can deliver measurable savings and “smarter” ways of doing things. This can increase quality of life while dramatically reducing emissions.
Cities are close to business, the research community and citizens. The sheer volume of people, cars, buildings and other infrastructure makes it possible to develop leadership in the low carbon innovation field through the promotion of digital technologies which can support the development of more intelligent and sustainable cities. Cities, in collaboration with rural areas, should be able to demonstrate how they can use, and are using, ICTs to achieve new and innovative ways to deliver services through transformative solutions that support a low carbon urban living.
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