Cities represent less than 3% of the earth's surface, but currently they concentrate more than half of the world's population. Although they are an engine of economic growth, they are also the pollution of the planet, since they consume more than two-thirds of the energy and emit more than 70% of greenhouse gases globally.

With these data it is clear that the most populated urban centers of the Earth are responsible in large part of the climate crisis, but in them there is also the solution to stop it.

And it is increasingly urgent that cities set a fundamental objective in their agendas: carbon neutrality, or what is the same, achieve zero net emissions of greenhouse gases and become local leaders in mitigation and Adaptation to climate change.

Many governments have realized that in order to fulfill their national plans in the fight for climate, they inevitably need the commitment of local institutions to gradually eliminate the use of fossil fuels. With the effort of all parties, public sector, citizenship and private sector, it is possible.

Measures to pollute less in cities

Polluter pays

Cities can develop economic policies and environmental taxation measures that reward non-polluting activities and severely penalize those that are not respectful of the environment, both in production and consumption.

Among the fiscal measures to reduce the pollution of cities we find taxes on emissions that have an impact on reducing them in other sectors, compensation mechanisms, a tax on the price of carbon or support for the financing of projects that favor The fight against climate change.

An example is found in Canada , which has launched a canon for the consumption of fossil fuels such as gas, diesel and coal and rewards citizens who use them less with returns in their statements to the Treasury.

Stimulate efficient and intelligent housing in cities

Another way of approaching carbon neutrality in cities is to monitor building methods . Choosing the least polluting options, both in technologies and materials, can reduce carbon emissions by 20% to 55%.

In addition, cities can tighten the legislation of the standards of construction of new housing , promoting buildings that comply with demanding environmental certificates in the management of their facilities and energy services: water heating systems based on solar energy, air conditioning more efficient, water heating, smart thermostats, lighting presence sensors ...

On the economic issue, local governments can provide financing tools that allow more sustainable buildings to be built and renovation of old buildings to achieve energy efficiency. Improving the insulation materials of walls, windows or ceilings reduces energy expenditure by up to 40%.

New York, for example, already requires owners of large buildings to perform periodic energy audits and equipment renewal when they do not meet the standards set.

Promote renewable energy in all sectors

The fight against global warming depends fundamentally on the generalization of renewable energies . It is urgent that cities favor their use with fiscal and legislative tools: provide clean energy generators with a fixed price for the energy they produce, promote tax credits in the form of kWh generated, create green financial instruments that favor their deployment, both at the level private as business ...

A paradigm shift in mobility

Cities need mobility planning that is increasingly committed to reducing pollution .

Measures are needed to reduce traffic in the center , encourage public and sustainable transport to reach the business areas that concentrate more workers and facilitate its circulation with special fast lanes or renewed subway stations.

Less waste and more circular economy

Cities can address the management of their waste with the reduction of emissions as a primary objective . The circular economy must be the pillar that supports this management with its three principles: reduce, reuse and recycle .

Waste to energy plants, that is, the transformation of waste into energy, reduce storage in landfills and take advantage of garbage to convert it into renewable energy.

In addition, promoting composting techniques , anaerobic treatment or similar methods help the disappearance of waste without generating an unsustainable environmental impact.

Cities have the potential to achieve between 90% and 100% of the reduction of pollutant emissions needed by 2030 and to implement much of the infrastructure needed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 . With the collaboration of public organizations, private investment and citizen will, we can achieve it.


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