Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Megacities must tie clean air goals to carbon cuts, say experts

SciDev.net: Residents of the world's largest cities are ideally positioned to achieve the twin goals of clean air and lower carbon emissions, according to scientists in China and the US. The sheer density of populations in the world's 19 megacities — cities containing 10 million people or more — means the financial resources are available to tackle the combined problem of air pollution and climate change, say environment scientist Zhu Tong from Peking University and David Parrish from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the US in an article published in Science last month (30 October).

Making public transport and buildings more energy efficient is key to cleaning the air and lowering overall energy consumption, argue the article's authors. "If proper measures are taken, we can not only reclaim clean air in megacities, but also reduce carbon dioxide emissions," Zhu told SciDev.Net.

He added: "More advanced technologies and a better chance of generating wealth and managing energy enable megacities to reduce air pollution and control climate change in a more efficient way." Residents of megacities are exposed to airborne particles and ozone that are known to cause severe health problems, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

All of today's megacities fall below the WHO standard for particulate matter, and the problem of pollution mushrooms as cities grow. Half of humanity now lives in cities and the number of megacities is expected to reach 27 by 2025….

A favela in Rio de Janeiro

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