Rapid systemic change is needed: slashing emissions in cities

(Eco Business, 21 Dec 2021) A whole of industry systems change is required, with stakeholders across the value chain playing their part, says René Hillig, Singapore managing director of design and consultancy firm Arcadis.

Cities, which generate three-quarters of global carbon emissions, are fast becoming the battleground where the fight against climate change will be won or lost. Planet-warming emissions will worsen as sprawling cities are predicted to house nearly 70 per cent of the world’s population by 2050. 

Asia, particularly China and India, will represent the lion’s share of this growth. It is also in Asia where urban populations will bear the brunt of the effects of climate change, with raging heatwaves, rising sea-levels and extreme rainfall causing flash flooding. 

The pressure is on governments and urban planners to act as a catalyst to drive down the emissions of urban transport, energy generation and buildings. “Rapid systemic change is needed,” said René Hillig, Singapore managing director of Arcadis, a global design and consultancy firm for natural and built assets.

Engineers and architects can only do so much to push an agenda that promotes design to ensure that cities adapt to and are resilient against the harsh realities of climate change. Governments are key to incentivising better choices for the environment, and deterring those that are harmful, Hillig told Eco-Business in an interview.

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Eco Business, 21 Dec 2021: Rapid systemic change is needed: slashing emissions in cities