Urban consumption is driving global emissions

Consumption-based emissions from nearly 100 of the world’s biggest cities represent 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to new research from C40 Cities.

The new report, The Future of Urban Consumption in a 1.5°C World, which produced by C40 Cities in partnership with Arup and the University of Leeds, cautions that urban consumption-based emissions must be cut by at least 50 per cent by 2030 if we are to keep global temperature rise below 1.5°C.

High-income areas, which are responsible for the bulk of consumption-based emissions, need to cut their emissions much faster – two-thirds by 2030, according to a C40 Cities press release.

The report focused six sectors – food, construction, clothing, vehicles, aviation and electronics – and found there is significant potential to cut consumption-based emissions in all of them.

For instance, moving to a plant-based diet, eating healthy portions and avoiding food waste could reduce consumption-based emissions from food by an average of 31 to 37 per cent by 2030. Likewise, encouraging new clothing business models focused on recycling, upgrading, renting and reusing clothes could reduce the number of items of clothing per person per year down to just three items.

“This is a wake-up call for all leaders, business, and citizens to consider both the local and global climate impact of the things they consume, and an opportunity to better engage citizens and businesses in solving the climate emergency,” said Mark Watts, Executive Director of C40 Cities. “This research clearly demonstrates that changing the way we consume could make a significant contribution to cutting emissions.”

According to C40 Cities, there are many tangible benefits to reducing consumption-based emissions. Up to 170,000 deaths per year could be prevented across C40 cities if residents eat less red meat and more vegetables and fruits, and they could save $93 billion by consuming clothes and textiles differently. What’s more, some 170 million square metres of on-street parking could end up back in the public realm by reducing private vehicle ownership, which in turn would allow for more trees and cycling lanes.

Image credit: Tim Easley via Unsplash


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