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Climate-smart cities could help save $22 trillions by 2050

September 10, 2015 12:51 PM |

Climate smart citiesIt seems that Narendra Modi's smart cities may not be smart enough after all.  While the Modi government has given fresh impetus to the development of some 100 smart cities in India, environmentalists and economists are pushing for climate-smart cities instead. The idea is to go for green buildings and better infrastructure in order to save close to $22tn by 2050.

The key areas of focus include an expanded and better managed public transport system, better waste management, and energy-saving buildings. As per the Global Commission on Economy and Climate, climate-smart cities will not only spur economic growth but also help cut carbon pollution and give way to a better quality of life.

Basically, the study holds that if state governments decide to back efforts aimed at environment conservation, the savings on transport, energy efficient buildings, and waste disposal will combine to give back a benefit of $22tn by the year 2050. Also, by the year 2030, all these concentrated efforts would avoid emissions equivalent to 3.7 gigatonnes a year, which exceeds India’s current annual greenhouse gas emissions.

These findings come at a time when global efforts for countering climate change are gathering speed and momentum. World leaders are set to meet at the Paris climate summit towards the end of the year and will discuss a new agreement on climate change. Simply speaking, the challenge is to stay within the ‘2C’ temperature rise threshold as beyond this, global warming is likely to become catastrophic and even irreversible. The current global emission trend translates into a rise of about 5C.

Recently, Earth’s topmost climate scientist released an alarming sea level study which further strengthens the cause of environmentalists. There is now increasing evidence regarding the fact that economies can survive and bloom despite decreasing emissions. This has set the platform for the Paris climate summit, which is scheduled to be held from November 30 to December 11, later this year.

As India braces up for the challenge of developing some 100 smart cities, Narendra Modi and his team must find ways to insert the word ‘climate’ somewhere in between. Air pollution levels in developing economies like India and China are at an all-time high with Delhi contesting Beijing in terms of worst air quality levels. The same situation can be witnessed in African nations which are witnessing multiple waves of urbanization. Thus, the idea of going for ‘climate-smart’ and not just smart seems to be more promising at this point of time.

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