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Hallmarks of a sustainable city

15 Jun 2009

The world’s climate is changing. The scientific evidence is incontrovertible: most of this change is due to human activity, and the process is speeding up as more and more carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases are pumped into the atmosphere. The next 10 years are critical. Carbon dioxide emissions must be cut rapidly. If they are, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we may limit the rise in global temperatures to two degrees centigrade. But if we continue on regardless – and towns and cities contribute up to half of all emissions – the rise could be up to six degrees centigrade. 

This means re-designing how we think and how we organise our lives. It requires courage, vision and leadership. These are being shown by some places, such as Manchester, Seattle and Toronto, which recognise climate change as one of several critical environmental symptoms attributable to unsustainable ways of living and over-consumption of resources. But such inspirational examples are still all too rare. Alongside the climate crisis, we face an economic crisis.


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