Technical Solutions Not A Silver Bullet In Battle Against Climate Change

Economic Incentives Must Change On Many Levels

By Laurie Goering, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Dealing with climate change and its risks will require not only technical responses like drought-resilient crops and higher sea walls but also reshaping economic and political incentives that are driving global warming, scientists said on Wednesday.

“The biggest risk of all that we face is that we’re addressing the wrong problem,” University of Oslo sociologist Karen O’Brien told a week-long conference of climate researchers in Paris.

Using more renewable energy and setting up crop insurance schemes and early warning systems is important, she said. But climate change “is more than a technical challenge.” Finding genuine solutions will have to involve “looking at who has power and how that might need to change,” she said.

sustainable cities
Climate change solutions will require a different set of incentives for government, industry and consumers. Will it take crises of epic proportions to force changes?

The rush to secure oil drilling rights in the Arctic, for instance, is painted by some analysts as the potential start of a new Cold War, as countries compete to gain access to some of the planet’s last untapped oil deposits in pursuit of profit and energy security, she said. But it is happening despite science that shows a third of the world’s already discovered oil reserves – as well as half of gas reserves and 80 percent of coal reserves – must stay in the ground to avoid runaway climate change that could see food supplies collapse, O’Brien and other experts said.

Climate risks will not be tackled effectively unless such contradictions are dealt with, O’Brien said. One way to achieve that could be through people stepping up to try and change the way governments and institutions behave.

“Small changes can make big differences, and individuals, especially when working together, can generate big social change,” she said.

Bending political and economic power to solve climate problems will be difficult, but “we are transforming either way,” O’Brien said, as a world four degrees Celsius warmer – the current trajectory for 2100 – would reshape life on Earth.

trees a climate change solution

Adapting to some of the accompanying problems, including a rise in deaths from extreme heat in South Asia, would be largely impossible, she said.

Some of the biggest opportunities to put the world on a different pathway may lie in fast-growing cities, said Shobhakar Dhakal of the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand.

Already more than 70 percent of global emissions caused by energy use come from cities, according to scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. By 2050, urban areas will have 2.6 billion more people, most of them in Asia and Africa, Dhakal said.

green infrastructure
Sustainable cities are resilient cities.

If rapidly urbanizing areas can build homes close to jobs and services, while making walking and public transport good options, climate-changing emissions could be reduced dramatically, he said.

“Our ability to make deep cuts to global greenhouse gas emissions depends to a large extent on what kinds of cities and towns we build,” Dhakal said.

Real progress on climate change and reducing vulnerability to its impacts will also require efforts to coordinate a huge range of activities, including social policy, urban planning, insurance, weather monitoring and deploying the right technologies, said Nobuo Minura, president of Japan’s Ibaraki University.

Johan Rockstrom of the Stockholm Resilience Centre warned that “we as humanity are now in a position to disrupt the stability of the entire world by driving climate change.

Many economic and government systems have been designed around a high-emission way of doing things, he said. Now, “we need a new relationship between people and the planet.”

Greener City News via http://www.trust.org/item/20150708160447-iq2yo/

 

Qatar Promoting Sustainability With Green Cities

Sustainability A Priority In Region

Qatar unveiled plans to develop sustainable cities at the Middle East Arab Future City Summit, which opened in Doha yesterday. The summit will showcase sustainable technologies for urban development. Rashed Saed Al Naimi, Director, Al Rayyan Municipality inaugurated the event organized under the patronage of Municipality and Urban Planning at St Regis Doha.

Qatar Green Cities

Features of the Qatar National Master Plan which would be soon launched were discussed by Ali Al Khayat, Senior Urban Planning Researcher, Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning. The plan outlines spatial development plan for the cities, town centers and urban settlements. Its planning policies enable sustainable planning decisions and development applications, said Al Khayat.

The two-day conference is held to discover environmentally friendly technologies, where many companies are showcasing their smart city solutions.

Qatar’s future development is dependent on its effective embrace of sustainable technology driven development strategies, says Sean Patrick O’Brien, Vice President, Urban Matters and Public Security, SAP.

Many high profile city leaders, urban planners, developers, sustainability experts and investors, along with the world’s largest technology firms are participating at the summit.

The event is a platform for the public and private sector to discuss the strategies and challenges involved in developing smart grids, integrated transport systems, sustainable buildings and ICT infrastructure.

Cities are becoming larger and more complex than ever, yet future cities will be cleaner, more sustainable, and will offer an enhanced quality of life to their citizens, explained Lynn C Reyes, Services Lead, Smarter Cities – Middle East and Africa Region, IBM Global Business Services, in her presentation on Smarter Cities for Smarter Growth.

Source: http://www.qatarchronicle.com/life-style/21654/qatar-determined-to-save-the-planet-through-green-cities/

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