Developing-world cities key to the 1.5C target

Fast-growing cities in the developing world have a pivotal role to play in limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, finds the latest UN climate change report.

According to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius will require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport and cities.

Many Western metropolises have already embraced this transition, making headlines with their innovative advances in several of these areas. But it is their developing-world counterparts that have a key role to play in making or breaking the 1.5C warming goal, according to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Much of urban growth is expected to occur in the small- and medium-sized cities in the global south. However, as William Solecki, one of the authors of the latest UN report, points out, these are the same cities that “historically have had limited capacity in governance and finance”.

While this could place a significant proportion of people at risk of the impacts of climate change, inequality and poverty, it also creates new opportunities. For instance, the article mentions that the lack of government services in poorer parts of cities could spur “green” informal economies based around things like recycle and resource-efficiency.

Cities in developing countries can also “leapfrog the mistakes made by the West”, said Mark Watts, executive director of C40 Cities. His organisation is urging these cities to stop investing in high-carbon infrastructure, such as roads, and instead put their scarce resources into clean transport and zero-carbon buildings.

Image credit: JC Gellidon via Unsplash

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