We can cut emissions in half by 2040 – but only if we build smarter cities

As a planet, we have some serious climate targets to meet in the coming years. The Paris Agreement, signed by 192 countries, set an aspirational goal of limiting global warming to 1.5?C. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, set to be achieved by 2030, commit the world to “take urgent action” on climate change. All this will require ridding our economies of carbon. If we’re to do so, we need to completely rethink our cities. The UN’s peak climate body showed in its most recent report that cities are crucial to preventing drastic climate change. Already, cities contribute 71 per cent to 76 per cent to energy-related carbon emissions. In the Global South, energy consumption and emissions in urban areas tend to be way higher than those in rural areas. Future population growth is expected to take place almost entirely in cities and smaller urban settlements. Unfortunately, those smaller centres generally lack the capacity to properly address climate change.