Alejandra Borunda, a science and engineering fellow at National Geographic, summarizes a recent report from the Coalition for Urban Transitions that says cities could cut their carbon emissions by 90% using existing technologies. These findings are critical, Borunda says, because about 70% of the global population will live and work in cities by 2050, and city life already accounts for 75% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. So, in order to limit the effects of climate change and global warming, we need to focus on the effects of cities.
The biggest factor within cities themselves, the Coalition report also found, is buildings. Older buildings need to be retrofitted so that they don’t waste electricity on HVAC systems and other drains on power; newer buildings need to be made more efficient from the start, built for their environment and monitoring their energy usage. Making these kinds of changes could reduce carbon emissions by 60% even before other changes, such as changing transportation methods or using better building materials, were also made.