Green Economy Initiative Edit

Sustainable cities not starting from ground zero

Huge opportunities exist for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and generating employment. In some countries the built environment is responsible for up to 40% of total energy use.

A worldwide transition to energy-efficient buildings would create millions of jobs, as well as "greening" existing employment for many of the estimated 111 million people already working in the construction sector.

Investments in improved energy efficiency in buildings could generate an additional 2-3.5 million green jobs in Europe and the United States alone, with the potential much higher in developing countries.

Several cities are now developing sustainable transport projects including Bus Rapid Transport schemes.

In Mexico City BRT schemes alongside cycle-ways and new traffic measures, envisage a 10 per cent cut in transport-related smog and fine air particles and average annual benefits of over $750 million.

The Marikina bikeway project, which is focusing on safe cycle ways in Manila, Philippines, plans to double the share of journeys by pedal power by 2015. It is estimated that for every dollar of the around $2 million invested there will be a two dollar return in health and wider environmental benefits.

In Lima, Peru use of bicycles twice a day results in per capita savings of up to $7.60 per month. The amount of money saved is equivalent to just under 10 per cent of a Lima resident's monthly energy bill.

Better use of information technology, demand management and planning and market instruments are also forming part of such schemes.

For example, housing and employment should be focused along transit hubs so as to shorten journeys to buses and cycle ways. Congestion charging, parking fees and tax credit for more efficient forms of transport may also be a boon.

Finally, simple measures like ensuring buses and vehicles are properly maintained and serviced can deliver significant benefits in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and local air quality.

"In Rio de Janeiro, improved operation of diesel buses has shown to result in annual savings of 40 million liters of fuel - a 12.5 per cent reduction - averting 107,800 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year."

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