As we all know, cities have become a hot spot for climate action. The pollution level in the cities is many times higher than in rural areas, beside expansion of the cities eats up forested lands, which absorbs this pollution. It is predicted that by the time of 2050 about 86% of developed world population will live in the cities, so cities will need to become more sustainable, otherwise the huge level of greenhouse gas emissions and other kind of pollution will slowly destroy the world. Is it possible to make cities sustainable and make the urbanization less threatening to the environment?
Actually it is possible to reduce the pollution created by the cities and it is already being done in most of the cities, beside growing urbanization can be even good to the environment, because people who live in big cities drive less, use less energy, and enquirer less resources. If only city consistent with the environmentally friendly living principles, it can be truly sustainable.
The first factor which determinate if the city is sustainable or not is the road network. Urban commuters spend a lot of time stuck in traffic congestion, burning gasoline and emitting carbon dioxide. If cities could exclude that, the pollution and the carbon footprint would reduce significantly. Cities should have tree level roads, good mass transit systems and most important, convenient sidewalks and cycle paths. Focusing more on pedestrians and cyclists would get more cars off the road and that would result with less pollution caused by chaotic traffic.
Next factor that is important for sustainability is energy efficient buildings. Almost 40% of carbon dioxide emissions come from heating, cooling, and powering buildings. To avoid this, there should be good insulation of the buildings and modern, energy efficient heating and ventilation equipment. That could help cities to reduce energy consumption by 30%.
Also transportation must be environmentally friendly. Cities should choose energy efficient public transportation. For example, each of the biggest cities should have metro and streetcar lines, because electric powered transportation emits less greenhouse gas. Also buses now can be electricity powered. Cities must be innovative and think of ways how to make public transportation as environmentally friendly and available as possible.
And also sustainable city must be green. Of course, it is impossible to save forest lands if we want to build cities, but we can leave some green areas. Parks and gardens are not meant only for aesthetics. They absorb the pollution created by urban infrastructure. Sustainable city must have green areas and trees that could fight against the pollution. These areas have been exterminated, because they doesn’t bring economic contribution, but they are very important for sustainability.
Every city can be sustainable, but it requires come improvements and reorganization. If urban residents, municipalities and also countries will focus more on sustainability not only economical growth, urbanization won’t cause destruction of the planet. However, if the cities won’t become sustainable soon, there will really be some serious environmental problems that whole humanity will face with.