Background

GHG Emissions
Direct and Indirect GHG Emissions

Greenhouse gas (GHG) molecules such as CO2, CH4, N2O, HFC, PFC and SF6, and clouds, are accumulating in the atmosphere due to anthropogenic activities which include agriculture, transport, land use change, energy generation and waste generation. These GHGs are contributing towards global warming which are not only causing an increase in the average earth temperature, but also contributing towards accelerating climate change (CC) and extreme climate events such as the risks of heat waves, melting of glacier, changes in wind patterns, large-scale changes in land precipitation in some areas, droughts in others and sea level rises. The nature of CC is global and it will adversely impact all the living beings on the entire earth.

There are number of evidences from models and observations at global and continental levels, and from the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to confirm that there was an increase in temperature of 0.85°C between 1880 and 2012. IPCC has also forecasted that the temperature will rise from 2.4 to 6.4°C by 2100, if the anthropogenic GHG emissions into the atmosphere continues to increase at the same rate. Therefore, it is crucial that all cities, companies and institutes around the world make an effort to immediately minimize their GHG emissions.

GHG Emission by Country

GHG Emissions

It is now undeniable that the earth’s climate is warming because of uncontrolled GHG emissions by human related activities. At the same time, world population is also growing tremendously which was 7.24 billion in 2014. It has also estimated that the population will be increased up to 9.5 billion by 2050. In 2014, more than half of the world’s population (55 per cent) lived in cities, and by 2050 this will have risen to 66 per cent. Because of population growth and their activities shared 71 per cent of global GHG emission which is expected to be increased to 76 per cent by 2030. It should be noted that the cities across the globe account for about 2 per cent of the earth’s landmass but share of huge amount of GHG emissions into its atmosphere.

Currently, 18 per cent of the world’s population living in developed countries account for 47 per cent of global CO2 emissions, while the 82 per cent of the world’s population living in developing countries account for the remaining 53 per cent. However, per capita CO2 emissions are far higher in developed countries than in developing countries. It is also predicted that 89 per cent of the increase in CO2 from energy use over the next 20 years will be from developing countries.

The UN Population Division shows that majority of developing countries or cities (mega, big, medium and small) are situated in Asian continent. With more than two fifths of the world’s population, Asia now has the largest number of urban dwellers. There are 225 urban agglomerations in Asia with populations of 0.5 to 1 million, and 184 cities with populations of 1 to 5 million. These are expected to increase to 241 and 244 respectively by 2015. This will lead to higher resource use, environmental issues and climate change. Therefore, Asian small and medium cities need to take bold actions to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts. The concern city authorities and planners need to take initiatives to address resource use efficiency of cities and GHG emissions. Targeting cities as the first line of action would help countries simultaneously to address resource conservation and to progress towards low carbon societies. Addressing city level issues will help progress climate policy discussions, and mitigation and adaptation of climate change in the world.