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Cities Most Innovative in Global Warming Fight

Deborah Zabarenko, Reuters via ENN
WASHINGTON — In an increasingly urban world, the most innovative ideas in the fight against global climate change are coming from cities and local initiatives, an environmental think-tank reported Wednesday.

The report by the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute noted the international trend toward city-dwelling, with 49 percent of the world’s population living in cities in 2005. Soon, and for the first time in human history, more people will live in cities than in rural areas, the report’s authors said.

When it comes to combating the effects of global warming, cities and other local governments often — but not always — lead the way, said Molly O’Meara Sheehan, project director of the report, “State of the World 2007”.
(11 Jan 2007)
Comment by Eric de Place at Gristmill.

Slum Hordes? World at Urban Crossroads, Warns Report

Aaron Glantz, via Common Dreams
SAN FRANCISCO – Over half the 1.1 billion people projected to join the world’s population over the next quarter century could live in under-served urban slums, warns a report released today by an environmental and social policy think tank. But a little creative leadership could still harness the positive aspects of urbanization to brighten the world’s economic and environmental future.

“We’ve gone from approximately 10 percent of the world’s people living in cities in 1900 to half today–and if we continue on this course we’re expected to top 70 percent in the next 20 or 30 years.”

The highest rates of urban growth are expected in Asia and Africa, the report notes. Unlike previous periods of urban growth, however, this one is not necessarily tied to improved conditions for the poor.

…According to the report, 1 billion urbanites–or approximately one sixth of the world’s total population–currently live in “slums,” defined as areas where people cannot secure key necessities such as clean water, a nearby toilet, or durable housing. An estimated 1.6 million urbanites die each year due to the lack of clean water and sanitation, the report said.

Rapid urban growth also has implications for global warming, Worldwatch said. While cities cover only 0.4 percent of the Earth’s surface, they generate the bulk of the world’s carbon emissions.

Still, Worldwatch noted that many cities around the world are developing innovative solutions that, if replicated, could both fight poverty and save the environment.

…”A city is a collective dream. To build this dream is vital,” the former Mayor of Curitiba, Jaime Lerner, wrote in his foreword to the report. “It is in our cities that we can make the most progress toward a more peaceful and balanced planet, so we can look at an urban world with optimism instead of fear.”
(11 Jan 2007)

Worldwatch’s Sheehan calls for federal action on efficiency and transportation
(transcript and video)
Monica Trauzzi, E&E TV
Local leaders throughout the country are looking to the success of their international counterparts as they try to promote energy efficiency and environmental awareness in the United States. During today’s OnPoint, Molly O’Meara Sheehan, senior researcher at the Worldwatch Institute and project director of “State of the World 2007: Our Urban Future,” discusses global trends in greening urban transportation and energizing cities in efficient and environmentally sound ways. Sheehan discusses the success that many major international cities have had in “greening” their transportation infrastructures and promoting alternative sources of energy.
(11 Jan 2007)

Worldwatch: Our Urban Future

Alex Steffen, WorldWatching
By the end of this decade, there will be nearly 3.5 billion city-dwellers.

The annual State of the World report, prepared by our allies at Worldwatch, has long been one of the most critical resources for understanding the problems facing our planet and their possible solutions. This year’s report, though, Our Urban Future, is even more prescient and vital than usual.

That’s because Our Urban Future tackles the challenge of building sustainable cities, and cities (as we’ve long remarked here) are the best levers we have for creating rapid transformation to a bright green future (which is why we devoted one of the seven chapters of Worldchanging to cities and the best tools, models and ideas for changing them).
(11 Jan 2007)
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