Today, more than half of the world’s population are living in cities that are now contributing 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions. They cover less than 3% of the earth’s surface. And urbanisation continues apace.
With such a massive carbon footprint, it is clearly vital that cities are part of the solution. And, from another perspective, the sheer concentration of people, resources and economic activities in urban centres will only serve to magnify city-dwellers’ vulnerability to the effects of climate change. Despite this, to date scarcely any consideration has been given to the potential impact of climate change on urban dwellers, especially in the developing countries and burgeoning megacities of Africa, Asia and Latin America, where a wide variety of environmental and development challenges are likely to further exacerbate their vulnerability to climatic effects.
Such population concentrations mean local decision-makers have both an opportunity and obligation to construct climate-resilient infrastructures, create climate-friendly livelihoods and develop urban systems that ensure better air quality, water, transport and health services for all who live in them. Environmental liabilities need to be transformed into sustainable assets.
Green CITYnomics: The Urban War against Climate Change presents a rich set of contributions by a highly diverse group of 45 of the world’s leading urban experts on climate change. In particular, it illustrates the desire some cities are already demonstrating in engaging in this war. Standing still is not an option. Budgets have to be fought for; minds have to be won over; old, untenable and unsustainable ideas and solutions must be challenged; green and sustainable solutions must be given the chance to develop and to prove themselves.
The book is organised into four sections. First, contributors discuss the challenges of making an integrated assessment of the impact of climate change in our urban centres. Second, the book examines the options and challenges for policy-makers. Third, specific aspects of health, air quality, land use and water supply are examined. Finally, the focus moves to specific aspects of solar heating, urban heat island intensity, building emissions and urban planning education.
Each of the cities and urban centres discussed — from Hong Kong to Dresden; from Mexico City to Qatar — are, in their own ways, heroes and examples to us all. This book provides a compelling manifesto for the world’s cities in their ‘Urban War against Climate Change’. It will be essential reading for climate scientists, national and local policy-makers and scholars worldwide.
Standing still is not an option. Budgets have to be fought for; minds have to
be won over; old, untenable and unsustainable ideas and solutions must be
challenged; and green and sustainable solutions must be given the chance to
develop and to prove themselves. This book provides a compelling manifesto for
the world’s cities in their Urban War against Climate Change.
Chris Walker, Special Advisor and former Director (Chief Executive) for North America, The Climate Group
In a world that is already more than 50% urbanised, cities are at the nexus
of our global sustainability challenge. Green CITYnomics gives us a window of
hope in our quest for sustainable cities, and also a stark reminder of the dire
consequences if we fail. This book throws down the gauntlet, challenging us to
re-imagine the way we live.
Dr Wayne Visser, Development Adviser, University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership and author of Landmarks for Sustainability
Cities all over the world are at the front line in the battle against climate
change. But how do city leaders and planners realise the huge opportunities that
these challenges offer? Green CITYnomics shows mayors and city decision-makers
how to strengthen urban economies, develop partnerships, create jobs and improve
quality of life through sustainable and practical climate action programmes for
their cities. I recommend it.
David Singleton, Arup Group Board Director for Sustainability and Chair, Global Infrastructure Practice
City leaders must act now to engage with their communities and prepare their
cities for a carbon-constrained world.
Paul Dickinson, Chief Executive, Carbon Disclosure Project
How to tackle climate change is an issue dominating much popular and academic writing, and a debate that received particular attention in 2009 under the spotlight of the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen at the end of the year. Despite the myriad publications, Green CITYnomics: The Urban War against Climate Change, published in the same year, offers a useful addition to the subject area. The volume is edited by Dr Kenny Tang (with special assistance from Lorraine Tang) and presents fifteen chapters over four sections, which the foreword states: ‘provides a compelling manifesto for the world’s cities in their Urban War Against Climate Change’ (p. viii). Presenting work from 44 authors, this book explores the some of the complex issues on the interface of cities and their surrounding regions; including CO2 management, health governance, solar heating and building design. Overall, Green CITYnomics provides a unique assessment of how the impact of climate change can be tackled on a city by city approach.
The inherent value of this book is the attention that it draws to the importance of cities (and the region in which they are situated), and their localized responses to climate change. In particular, Green CITYnomics highlights the complexities of developing a response to climate change within the confines of existing political boundaries and physical infrastructure. This is an important contribution to wider debates around climate change that often focus either on national responses (particularly within a global context) or the practices of the individual. In particular, several of the authors note the critical role of local government and stakeholders, which all too often is absent. Green CITYnomics illustrates a strong sense of geographical differentiation through a series of case studies, situated in city-regions across the globe. In particular, the book makes an important contribution to urban geography by bringing together interdisciplinary work that explores the boundary between the physicality of the city (i.e. the physical geography on which it is built and existing infrastructure), its inhabitants and the political structures in which they exist. In doing so, it notes the importance of the wider region in supporting cities with resources.
The use of (what the editor terms), ‘micro-case studies’ adds an important empirical dimension to this book, and in turn allows the authors to describe and assess environmental management techniques such as Municipal Adaptation Planning (see chapter 5) or Clean Development Mechanism (see chapter 9). By including case studies from diverse locations such as Mexico City, Dresden, the Baltic Sea region and Doha (amongst others) the book highlights how place is a key factor in developing a response to climate change. The wide range of case studies has been made possible by the considerable number of contributors, the notes on which gives the reader a sense of the diverse disciplinary inputs important to the subject area. For those who wish to research the impacts of climate change on the city, this gives a sense of the broad range of disciplines that may be key to enhancing understanding of the subject matter. The final chapter makes a strong argument for urban scholars to communicate their research is through teaching to ensure that future urban professionals are equipped with the skills to ensure urban sustainability. Although this may apply more to those teaching urban design, planning or engineering, I found this chapter led to personable reflection on how I communicate my own urban geography research in the light of the climate change crisis.
Green CITYnomics has been written in a very accessible style, with much of the information broken down into bullet points alongside succinct conclusions at the end of each chapter. This makes the book eminently readable and is likely to appeal to policy makers as it allows the reader to quickly get a grasp of the empirical evidence, the arguments of the authors and the policy recommendations made. However, I fear that detailing the empirical research in this way may leave some academic readers wanting. There is very little engagement with broader theoretical conceptualizations of city-regions and their governance, which in turn could have added considerable depth to the policy recommendations. Stylistically, all the chapters contained within this volume could stand alone, which will benefit readers seeking particular specific information, but it ultimately sacrifices a coherent argument across the volume. For example, many of the chapters commenced with an introduction to climate change, which I felt did not need continually repeating as this has already been summarized in the introductory chapter, especially as the authors frequently referred to the same IPCC (2007) report.
The lack of integration between chapters limits the contribution that Green CITYnomics can make, which I feel is an opportunity missed. Given the breadth of subjects that this book engages with, in a considerable number geographic contexts, this volume could have made a stronger argument through greater deduction. In particular, the policy recommendations that feature heavily throughout the volume could have far greater impact if synthesized, particularly with respect to wider theoretical debates. In turn, this would have strengthened the editor’s argument that the work presented demonstrated evidence of a ‘war against climate change’.
Notwithstanding these limitations to Green CITYnomics I see this
volume as a welcome and important contribution to urban studies. Although not
the explicit intention of the authors, Green CITYnomics draws attention
to the differentiation of cities through the impacts of climate change, arguably
in sharp contrast to understandings of the city that homogenize their nature,
such as the globalized, paradigmatic or revanchist city. Instead, Green
CITYnomics demonstrates how urban geography as a research area, needs to
further engage with how our urban spaces are likely to evolve as cities (and
their surrounding regions), as they are forced to adapt to local specificities
induced by global climate changes. The book also serves as a timely reminder of
the responsibility of urban geographers to engage with understanding of the
impacts of climate change in order to communicate to students, policy makers and
practitioners ways of developing localized city responses to climate change.
Thus, Green CITYnomics is a brave and ambitious book that provides a
positive assessment of how cities can tackle climate change with specific
recommendations for practitioners and policy makers. For urban geography, it
demonstrates the need to engage with how climate change will shape and change
our cities differentiated by their physical geography and existing urban
Rebecca Edwards, University of Southampton, on the website of the Royal Geographical Society–Institute of British Geographers Urban Geography Research Group (UGRG)
Foreword: Leadership by cities
Chris Walker, Special Advisor and former Director (Chief Executive) for North America, The Climate Group
Preface and acknowledgements
Kenny Tang, Oxbridge Capital, UK
Section 1: Introduction
1. Introduction to Green CITYnomics: the urban war against climate change
Dr Kenny Tang CFA
2. Climate change: a tipping point for a move towards sustainable development?
Tania Katzschner and Gregg Oelofse, University of Cape Town, South Africa
3. A blueprint for the integrated assessment of climate change in cities
R. J. Dawson, Newcastle University, UK, et al.
Section 2: Policy-making and CO2 management systems
4. Climate change impacts and responses: Hong Kong's vulnerable environment, infrastructure and economy
Alexandra Tracy, Christine Loh and Andrew Stevenson, Civic Exchange, Hong Kong
5. Municipal Adaptation Planning: a city-based framework for climate change adaptation
Pierre Mukheibir and Gina Ziervogel, Wannon Water Regional Authority, Australia, and University of Cape Town, South Africa
6. Developing a CO2 management system for public authorities
Edeltraud Günther and Julia Friedemann, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany
7. Climate change and policy-making in the Baltic Sea region
Walter Leal and Franziska Mannke, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, Germany
Section 3: Health, air quality, transport, land use and water
8. Urban local governments and human health in a climate of change
Scott Baum, Katrin Lowe and Stephen Horton, Griffith University, Australia
9. Better urban air quality and the Clean Development Mechanism: bringing together local and global interests
Steffan Bakker, Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands, Natalia Caldès and Maryse Labriet, Centro de Investigaciones Energeticas, Medioambientales y Tecnologicas, Spain, Thierry Lefevre and Jessie Todoc, Centre for Energy and Environment Resources Deve
10. Climate change and unsustainable land uses: the case of repetitive loss properties
Charles T. Schartung and David Simpson, University of Louisville, USA
11. The contribution of water supply systems to climate change
Nalanie Mithraratne, Land Care Research, New Zealand
Section 4: Solar heating, urban heat island, buildings and urban planning education
12. Environmental solar heating standard: a GHG mitigation policy in Mexico City
Claudia Sheinbaum, National Autonomous University of Mexico
13. A Study of urban heat island intensity: the case of Doha
N.V. Sasidharan, P. Govinda Rao, Qatar Aeronautical College, and Ali Hamed Al-Mulla, Qatar Petroleum
14. Emissions trading: a building block to the climate change solution?
Sara Hayes, Teigland-Hunt Associates LLP, USA
15. Climate change, peak oil and new curricula in urban planning education
Rafael Pizarro, The University of Sydney, Australia
Dr Kenny Tang PhD CFA is the Inaugural Professorial Fellow of the Future Leadership Institute of the Wall Street Journal Europe and founder Chief Executive Officer of Oxbridge Capital and Oxbridge Weather Capital, leading experts in the waste, weather, low-carbon, clean-tech and climate change space. Kenny has postgraduate degrees from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, including a Doctorate in Business Administration (Business Strategy) from the Judge Business School at Cambridge University. Dubbed ‘Asia’s Al Gore’ by leading global investment bank Merrill Lynch Asia Pacific and global strategy magazine Strategic Direction, Kenny has written on sustainability, climate change, clean tech, waste and green entrepreneurship for the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal. His books include: