Handful Of Cities Driving Urban Greenhouse Gas Emissions

According to an analysis of emission trends conducted by Reuters, just 25 cities accounted for greater than half of the greenhouse gas emissions across the globe. As reported by the European Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the study compared greenhouse gas emissions reported by 167 cities in 53 countries and found that 23 Chinese cities, plus Tokyo and Moscow, made up 52 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. The study revealed how emissions from cities located in wealthier parts of the world are greater than those from urban areas. Not to mention, according to Shaoqing Chen, an environmental scientist at Sun Yat-sen University in southern China, the findings highlighted the various roles cities play in decreasing emissions, emphasizing how cities must act to avoid the negative effects of climate change.

According to an ongoing temperature analysis conducted by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the average global temperature has risen by slightly more than one degree Celsius since 1880. In fact, Reuters suggests that average global temperatures are on track to exceed the one and half to two degrees Celsius limit set by the Paris Agreement.

As of today, most countries that are tracking their greenhouse gas emissions progress are showing improvements. According to ABC, research published in the Environmental Research Letters journal in 2018 found that 100 cities comprising 11 percent of the global population contributed to 18 percent of its carbon footprint. Out of the 13,000 cities in the sample, 68 of them, mostly located in developed nations, have established absolute emissions reduction targets. With that being said, only 30 of the 42 cities where progress was recorded had shown a decrease, most of them being in the United States or Europe. The analysis confirms scientists’ expectations that cities in developed nations with the highest per capita rates tend to have high levels of consumption, while cities in China with high per capita emissions are generally manufacturing sites.

As reported by Reuters, Professor Hoornweg, former advisor to the World Bank on sustainable cities and climate change, says that “while more developed economies in Europe and elsewhere can now grow without increasing emissions, the world is moving at different speeds.” He further states that countries in Europe “generated a tonne of emissions on the way to get there and China is in that stage now. We know India is getting there at some point and the last big push in all of this will be Africa.”

With this in mind, it is important to note that Africa is the continent that contributes the least to global warming in both absolute and per capita terms. In particular, Africa accounts for the smallest share of global greenhouse gas emissions out of all continents.

According to Brookings Institution, as compared to the largest producers of greenhouse gas emissions, China (23 percent of emissions), the United States (19 percent), and the European Union (13 percent), the entire continent of Africa contributes less to global warming than countries like India and Russia that each account for 6 percent. Yet, despite its extremely low emissions, working towards reducing emissions is necessary as it is one of the regions that is the most vulnerable to climate change. According to Brookings Institution, this is vital because agriculture makes up 30 to 40 percent of Africa’s GDP, and as much as 80% of Africa is dependent on low-yielding rain-fed agriculture.

According to ChinaPower, as Beijing is facing domestic pressure to address environmental concerns while maintaining economic growth, China has pledged to reduce its emissions by 60 to 65 percent as a part of the Paris Climate Agreement. On the other hand, according to Climate Action Tracker, while there are no clear signs of India moving from coal to renewable energy, India’s climate commitment in 2030 is considered to be a decent share of the global climate change effort based on its capability.