Cities starting to ramp up planned actions
The world’s major cities haven’t just confronted a pandemic in recent years. Record-breaking heatwaves, bushfires, floods and storm surges have increased pressure on urban areas to address and mitigate climate change.
There is now growing urgency to decarbonise cities and elevate resilience and climate priorities into the heart of the planning process, while also supporting green infrastructure, businesses and jobs.
In many ways, cities are on the frontline of this issue and have no choice but to show leadership. This is particularly so for those whose elderly residents and other vulnerable groups stand to suffer as global temperatures rise.
Some cities in coastal areas face an existential threat. San Francisco is integrating strategies to deal with sea level rises and earthquakes. New York is focusing on offshore wind power. Vancouver is aspiring to be a leader in clean tech.
The cost of taking action is not insignificant – and some solutions involve novel financing mechanisms. For example, hurricane-prone Miami is raising capital through a stormwater utility fee bond to fund affordable housing, and flood and sea water defences.
Most leading cities have well-developed environmental policies, backed by a target to achieve net-zero carbon emissions between 2030 and 2050.
Some cities, Sydney included, have made moves to decarbonise public transport fleets.
Toronto has introduced 300 electric buses and another 300 hybrid buses, the largest such fleet in North America.
NSW is incentivising local councils and businesses to buy electric vehicles and investing more than $170 million in a network of electric vehicle charging stations for public and private use.
Paris is exploring green logistics solutions such as river freight.
Energy-efficiency standards are being upgraded across public, commercial and residential buildings. In San Francisco, all new buildings and family homes up to 10 storeys require rooftop solar panels.
There is also a growing urban push to create sustainable low-carbon low-waste neighbourhoods, from Singapore’s Sentosa Island to pilot projects occurring in inner city London boroughs such as Hackney.