Cities and Climate Change

Urbanization is one of the key defining features of humanity as a whole. The progressive shift of people from rural areas and activities into towns and cities is a complex process inextricably tied to economic development and technological change. Most of the world’s population currently lives in urban areas. Besides population, cities concentrate disproportional parts of the economy, resource consumption and the decision making power in most countries. 75% of the global economic production takes place in urban areas. Cities are responsible for 67% of the total global energy consumption and more than 70% of greenhouse gas emissions and these trends significantly intensify the severity of some of the two great challenges of our time; climate change and energy security.

Social and Environmental Challenges

Rapid urban growth habitually could end up with serious social and environmental challenges, such as urban poverty, various forms of pollution, vulnerabilities to natural events and climate change impacts. The negative and unsustainable outcomes of current urban economies, which are based on high production and consumption, have become more visible and gained more attention since the 1990s. In order to keep up with rapid urban expansion and urban population growth, more resources as well as more consumption and production are required. The ever-increasing production and consumption in cities result in serious environmental problems in terms of the pollution of air, water and land as well as the degradation of ecosystems.

Social Inequity

Populations who do not have access to efficient resources and facilities in cities will suffer most from localized environmental problems and unhealthy living conditions. This constitutes another dark side of urban development, the ‘social inequity’ that can be regarded as a mere result of unbalanced and uneven structure of urbanization, especially in many developing countries. Thus, the challenges and opportunities for creating a greener economy and the institutional framework for sustainable development are passed necessarily, or mostly, to how cities are developed and managed. Moreover, cities are centers of knowledge and innovation both technological and institutional that can make viable a greener economy and better governance within and beyond the cities.

Climate Change and Urban Climatology

Climate change is a growing concern with extensive implications for life on Earth. Ecosystem and biodiversity, on which human existence depends, are increasingly facing multiple anthropogenic stresses, caused by macro and micro climate change. Cities, as aggregates of human activities, require energy in a variety of forms. Much of the primary energy sources transformed to be available to most of the cities around the world are still fossil-based, resulting in global climate change. In addition to this, cities are encountering particular problems related to urban climatology.

Greening the City Economy

The role of cities in promoting a green economy involves particularly the idea of greening the city economy, but also the city decisions that go beyond the cities. The institutional framework for a more sustainable development is intrinsically linked to the way cities operate and “think”. The large concentration of decisions with a massive scale and far reaching impacts puts cities in the center of the discussions about sustainable development. Understanding how the city economy and politics function and how the city is connected to a larger world (regional, national, global) is fundamental to understanding how to create institutional mechanisms to move the world towards a green economy. The growing size and importance of cities across the globe make it arguably the single most important entity to foster the green economy. Cities are often a better spatial unit by which to conceive of such activities given the diverse nature of cities since their management can be more responsive to urgent problems and free from competing national interests. Across the range of development we see that cities are playing an increasingly important role in the implementation of environmental policies regarding global issues such as climate change and biodiversity loss. The Green Economy provides another platform for ambitious cities to promote their green credentials.

Buildings

With the process of urbanization, the building sector fundamentally impacts all people’s daily life. The building sector is one of the main contributors to carbon emissions, with approximately 40% of global energy consumption, it consumes 12% of all fresh water and generates 40% of the total volume of waste. One of the key goals of urban sustainable development is to promote energy and resource efficiency in the building sector and  to provide good, healthy and affordable buildings for people in cities.

Waste

As one of the world’s emerging markets, Indonesia was recently confronted with an excessive generation of municipal solid waste (MSW). While integrated solid waste management (ISWM) is an important strategy to control the generation of MSW, it is now recognized that economic approaches also need to be promoted to tackle the problem. In this research, empirical approaches are developed to understand not only how market-based instruments could be introduced for environmental services, but also how to apply a co-benefits approach in green economy for an emerging economic country like Indonesia.