Monday, April 15, 2024

Cities must actively shape development to combat climate change

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We are in a critical decade, with a last shot to avoid the worst consequences of crises such as climate change and biodiversity loss. A recent report from the United Nations concluded that the world has failed to meet a single target on stopping biodiversity loss since targets were agreed upon in 2010. Forty percent of the world’s plants are under threat of extinction, and humanity has wiped out over 60 percent of the population of vertebrate species since 1970. When it comes to climate change, we are crossing tipping points at an alarming rate. Wildfires and storms are ravaging large parts of the world as Greenland’s melting ice sheet has passed the “point of no return” and may be destined to disappear. Forty percent of the Amazon rainforest is on the brink of shifting from rainforest to savanna.

The COVID pandemic is testing us in unprecedented ways, giving us a more tangible understanding of the importance of resilience, and of the scale of challenges we need to address as a society. We no longer can ignore our collective responsibility to change things. The time to act is now — for all of us.

Fortunately, many of us are in a position to have real impact just because of where we live. Do you live in a city? So does 55 percent of the world’s population — and urbanization continues to increase worldwide. This is significant, because cities are the main driver of many impacts described above. In our linear economy, cities act as global resource drains — devouring materials and energy from the hinterlands and spewing out waste and emissions. Read more…

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