JAN/FEB 2012 - Want to grow the economy? Shrink your city's emissions.
In tough times, some of us see protecting the climate as a luxury, but that's an outdated 20th-century worldview from a time when we thought industrialization was the end goal, waste was growth, and wealth meant a thick haze of air pollution.
Cities and urbanization are the story of the 21st century. Already, most of us live in cities. Over the next 40 years, though, we'll ride a building boom unlike anything humanity has ever seen, or may ever see again, as the world's cities swell by billions. Cities at the center of this demographic revolution will be utterly changed.
All that growth means opportunity -- at a time when we badly need it. In all sorts of ways, how we build our cities determines how we use energy within them. Denser, more walkable communities use much less energy than car-dependent ones. Multifamily homes use much less than homes on big lots. Compact urban infrastructure beats sprawling systems. Even consumer choices change in compact communities: How many condo owners, after all, have home gyms? Climate-focused city planning can lead to massive reductions in per capita energy use. That, in turn, can spur rapid economic growth.
Cities at the cutting edge of this kind of development, like Copenhagen and Amsterdam, aim to be carbon-neutral within 20 years. read more>>>