What are the Public Health Considerations when Mitigating Climate Change in Cities?

Building-related health impacts in European and Chinese cities: a scalable assessment method (13 page pdf, Jouni T. Tuomisto, Marjo Niittynen, Erkki Pärjälä, Arja Asikainen, Laura Perez, Stephan Trüeb, Matti Jantunen, Nino Künzli and Clive E. Sabel , Environmental Health, Dec. 14, 2015)
Today we review an assessment of the impact of various climate mitigation changes on health, an aspect not often considered in trying to achieve the main objective of reduced carbon emissions by reducing energy requirements for buildings for example.. In the European cities examined the health benefits were minimal (but positive) largely because the existing power sources were already clean. Care needs to be taken when reducing heating needs by adding insulation which may cause a worsening of indoor air quality. The advantages of having such a model are clear as more cities undertake mitigation by redesigning buildings.

building and health

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How Does Urbanization Affect Urban Air Quality in China?

Estimating the Impact of Urbanization on Air Quality in China Using Spatial Regression Models (23 page pdf, Chuanglin Fang, Haimeng Liu, Guangdong Li , Dongqi Sun and Zhuang Miao, Sustainability, Nov. 20, 2015)
Today we review research into the main characteristics of close to 300 Chinese cities that affect the degree of urban air pollution. Results indicate a close relationship between population density and private cars per unit of developed urban land and that this and the proportion of secondary industry has the greatest effect on the pollution of most cities, especially in the North (in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Henan, and Shandong). The authors recommend that China strictly control the scale of their mega cities and actively develop small and medium sized cities to offset these trends.

English: Population density in the People's Re...

English: Population density in the People’s Republic of China (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Priorities Needed to Achieve a Low Carbon World

World Energy Trilemma – Priority actions on climate change and how to balance the trilemma (57 page pdf, World Energy Council, 2015)

Also discussed here: Paris, give us carbon pricing, but give us market mechanisms too! (Joan MacNaughton, World Energy Trilemma, World Energy Council, Sep. 23, 2015)
Today we review a report and recommendations from the World Energy Council, aimed at the COP21 climate conference to take place in Paris in December 2015. Among the important factors that need to be considered in setting a global goal to remain below 2 C warming target is the need to recognize different energy dependencies in various countries and sub-regions, the need to have carbon pricing in place, in order to allow the successful implementation of carbon capture and storage (CCS) without which achievement of the goal is impossible and the major role for the private sector, especially in controlling emissions from the supply chain. For example, the differences between the carbon pricing strategies of fossil fuel provinces in Canada (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland) and low carbon energy producing provinces (British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec) and the mix of carbon tax and cap and trade approaches show how local situations lead to different low carbon solutions.

world energy council

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How do Stranded Assets Interfere with Carbon Taxes to Achieve a Low Carbon Economy?

Assessing carbon lock-in (8 page pdf, Peter Erickson, Sivan Kartha, Michael Lazarus and Kevin Tempest, Environ. Res. Lett., Aug. 25, 2015)

Today we review the results of economic modeling which examined how high carbon emitters and their infrastructure and supporting networks tend to discourage attempts to transform society to a low carbon economy in time to avoid exceeding the 450 ppm/2 deg C warming that is the global target. Results show that coal fired power plants are the biggest obstacle world-wide and their lifetimes lasting decades also discourage early conversion to low catrbon. . The model also predicts what level of carbon price would make continued investment in these old technologies uneconomic. Coal power plants require a carbon tax above $30 US/tonne. Other stranded assets include gas power plants and combustion engine cars and their economic carbon tax trigger point is higher than for coal.

overcommitted emissions

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How Should Countries Take Responsibility for Climate Change for Both Past and Future GHG Emissions?

Allocating a 2°C cumulative carbon budget to countries (10 page pdf, Renaud Gignac and H Damon Matthews, Environ. Res. Lett., Jun. 19, 2015)

Today we review a very timely analysis and proposition concerning the equitable sharing of the carbon debt that needs to be paid off in order for the world to meet the objective of limiting climate warming to 2 deg C or 450 ppme by 2050 which is the objective of the climate conference to be held in Paris in December 2015. The authors estimated past CO2 emissions from the nations of the world, noting the top ten emitters were United States, China, Russia, Brazil, India, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Indonesia and Canada (where the roles of USA and Russia stand out). The turning to the carbon debt as a result of future emissions projected with climate modeling from now to 2050 (where the current peak emissions from the USA and China stand out). Commitments stated by some countries in advance of the conference fall well short of the combined carbon debt but the approach presents the benefit of an objective sharing of responsibility for reaching the target. Further refinement is needed to move beyond CO2 emissions to include other greenhouse gases.

resp for cl ch

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The Main Question for Urban Planners to Resolve- Sprawl or Densification?

Density: Drivers, Dividends and Debates (32 page pdf, Greg Clark, Emily Moir, Urban Land Institute, Jun. 23, 2015)
Also discussed here: Density: Drivers, Dividends and Debates (Catherine Anderson , Urban Land Institute, Jun. 23, 2015)

A compact city tends to be more environmentally sustainable and has generally cleaner air than one that is spread out with emphasis on making it easier for people to drive to the centre of town with emphasis on roads wherever it allows them to drive more quickly. Today we review a research paper that examines the meaning(s) of urban density, explores the many myths about sprawl and intensification and suggests better designed and more sustainable cities for the future. Cities are categorized in terms of the density of their urban core, inner city and suburbs as Low-High-Low (typical of Europe), Low-Low-Low (typical of sprawled cities in USA/Canada/Australia), Low-Low-High (Toronto, Oslo), Medium-High- High (developing world cities). High density cities enjoy a number of advantages over low density ones, including walkability, natural habitats and economic waste disposal but fears of lower livability, traffic congestion and noise/pollution in high density cities need to be mitigated. Oslo and Toronto are seen as large cities where the balance is more nearly found.

Although an important factor, there is a compl...

Although an important factor, there is a complex relationship between urban densities and car use. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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What is a Fair and Ethical Reduction of Carbon Emissions for Nations to Meet their Climate Change Responsibilities?

Do US GHG Emissions Commitments Pass Ethical Scrutiny? (Ethics and Climate, Jun. 16, 2015)
Now that the Pope’s encyclical has made ethics a major consideration for addressing climate change, the question is asked what level of reduction of carbon emissions is fair and ethical in order to keep the earth’s atmosphere below the accepted 2 degrees of warming? As 5% of the world’s population, the USA’s share of the required 270 gigatons carbon reduction would be 13.5 Gtc compared to the current emission rate of 1.44 Gtc/year and this, in turn, would point to a 95% reduction by 2050, not the 80% pledged by the USA in 2014. And this does not include the ethical issues of responsibility for the fate of developing countries which did not play a significant role by their carbon emissions in getting to the state of the world we are now in. Other developed countries with high emission rates need to consider their fair share as well, in the days and months leading up to the agreement on emission rates expected at the UN’s climate conference in Paris in December 2015.

Carbon emissions from various global regions d...

Carbon emissions from various global regions during the period 1800–2000 AD (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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