Carbon-negative cities for mitigating climate change  

Polin Kumar Shaha   | Published: November 02, 2018 21:52:49 | Updated: November 09, 2018 20:10:01

It is estimated that 70 per cent of global carbon emissions occurs in cities, especially big ones. Urban population is expected to rise, and with this, emission of carbon dioxide will increase unless measures are taken to curb greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions. The way-out is to build the future cities as 'climate-neutral' (sometimes termed as 'carbon-negative').

Climate change impacts are an omnipresent challenge. The present strategy of 'decarbonisation' presents huge challenges, but this may hugely benefit the future generations. Bangladesh should develop its own mechanism to combat climate change and adopt policies to make our cities as 'climate neutral'. Here we focus on some major strategies on how this can be achieved.

Approach of green building in the built environment: Use of environment-friendly raw materials in buildings has a great potential to lessen carbon emission.

For examples, wood-based physical structures can serve as a carbon sink; Netherlands uses this method even in bridge structures. Use of environment-friendly raw materials has been increasing in Bangladesh also. For example, substitution of traditional bricks has been developed. Such initiatives need to be scaled up within climate change actions by both the government and private sectors.

Harnessing the latent of public spaces: The open places can act as a sequester of GHGs. In this respect, land-scarce Bangladesh is highly vulnerable. We need to have constructive design as well as city's development strategies to boost the ability of parks or similar spaces to sequester carbon.

Promoting innovation hubs: Innovation hubs can be designed to encourage companies to develop and produce consumer products from waste. That could help carbon removal efforts of cities. Here, an example is given from a US-based company, named New Light Technologies, which produces decomposable plastics out of methane gas coming from landfills.

Many concepts of 'carbon-negative' cities are available. Building such cities or turning the existing cities 'carbon-negative', will help achieve SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) by 2030.

Polin Kumar Saha is Senior Research Associate and sustainability professional at BRAC Research and Evaluation Divisio.


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