UN-HABITAT Releases Magazine on Role of Cities in Climate Change

© UN-HABITATApril 2009: The second issue of the UN Human Settlements Programme's (UN-HABITAT) new flagship magazine, Urban World, features climate change as its main theme. The 92-page issue addresses, among other topics, how cities can keep their ecological footprint to a minimum through better land use planning and building codes, the role of construction in reducing emissions, and how climate change is not gender neutral.

The issue's cover story, written by David Dodman and David Satterthwaite, International Institute for Environment and Development, questions whether cities can be blamed for 80% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) as noted by the Clinton Climate Initiative. The authors cite estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicating that cities produce between 30% and 41% of emissions. They note the limitations of statistical measurement, but assume that 80% is an overstated figure that would not compute with other sources of emissions. For instance, emissions coming from rural areas including agriculture and deforestation are estimated to represent 30% of total GHGs. The authors stress that any comparable data on the consumption of cities across countries is likely to face limitations. Nevertheless, the article emphasizes that cities have a role to play in addressing climate change, including adaptation measures and protective infrastructure.

An opinion piece by David Cadman, Vancouver City Councillor and International President of ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability), calls for a post-Kyoto Framework for action. Another piece by Karin Buhren, UN-HABITAT, describes the partnership with UNEP to promote urban environmental planning and management. An article by noted climate change contrarian Bjørn Lomborg questions whether the resources spent to address climate change would be better spent addressing other issues. The issue also features a message from the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivered at the UN Chief Executives Board at the climate talks in Poznan, Poland, on November 2008, which highlights that climate change may reverse the achievements made towards the Millennium Development Goals and poverty alleviation. [The publication]