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How emission control can create better life in cities

Stories by Maduka Nweke,

[email protected]    08034207864, 08118879331

Owing to industrialization and urbanization, chemical emissions have continued to make city life budensome to citizens. This is more as certain government laws are mostly not obeyed by the affluence in the society who do not bother about flouting rules instead, they consider paying their way out no matter what it entails.

This is why certain areas are demarcated as industrial areas and Government Reserved Areas (GRA).

But one can not rule out the possibility of having one or two residential homes among the industries or the vice versa. So in whichever one, town planners will have to arrange the cities in such a way that will not jeopardise the lives of fellow citizens in such cities. In such a way, they will plan the cities towards a low emission and sustainable urban future.

Experts have identified a number of key pathways to transform African cities towards a low emission and sustainable urban future. At the African Carbon Forum held recently in Cotonou, Benin Republic, they explained that unplanned and rapid urbanisation can lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions, urban poverty, and inequality. Consequently, participants focused discussions on innovative solutions such as integrated urban planning, including sustainable building design, comprehensive solid waste management systems, and paradigm shifts in transport and energy sectors.

Succinctly put by an online agency, the experts’ meeting was a part of the technical examination process under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to explore high potential emission reduction policies, practices, and technologies with significant sustainable development benefits. At the meeting, delegates tried to match theory with practical examples, underlining also that access to ready finance remains a critical requirement for progress.

For example, Vincent Kitio, Chief of the Urban Energy Unit at the Human Settlements Programme in UN-Habitat (United Nations Human Settlements Programme), said that urban planning must strike a balance between streets and public spaces, as well as how to combine land use for both economic and residential activities. Housing development, he added, should consider holistic building approaches to ensure overall efficiency, and strive for performance certification.

Waste is another area where better management would focus on encouraging reduction, re-use, and recycling. Private sector engagement in integrated waste management activities can be incentivised through users’ fees, taxes or revenue generated from the selling of energy or other by-products.

Innovative and adequate financial investment remain key to scaling up and replicating emission reduction actions in the urban environment. Understanding that access to funding is often an obstacle, Ash Sharma of NAMA Facility provided insights on overcoming financing, technical and institutional barriers through, deployment of innovative financial instruments and enhanced engagement with the private sector.

Cities and local governments must take on important role in identifying and mobilising new sustainable sources of funding, such as public budget allocations, taxes, and guarantees. Dedicated funding sources such as these complemented by conducive policy framework and regulations will incentivise private sector investment.

Stressing that mobilisation of the private sector is key to tapping available capital, Mr. Sharma outlined the importance of using de-risking instruments and avoiding market distortion to build confidence in the private sector. There is also the need to strengthen the capacity of local governments in financial management, he stated.

The meeting was organised jointly by the UNFCCC Secretariat, UN-Habitat, and ICLEI-Local Government for Sustainability. The meeting built on the successful event on cross cutting issues in urban environments and land use, which took place during the Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany. Urbanization in the developing countries has affected the structure and functions of the various social institutions, which include the family, economy, polity, religion, health and education. Industrialization and modernization which are intertwined with urbanization have led to the diminished functions of the various institutions in Nigerian urban centres. This is more so as emission from gases has helped to make life more hazardous with industrialization venturing into residential quarters as a result of urbanization. Urbanization has increased the poverty level in cities due to the alarming population growth of urban centres, and this is further aggravated by unemployment, underemployment, a decrease in real wages due to persistent inflation and uncontrolled migration according to a report by Celia V. Sanidad-Leones, in 2006. The challenges of urbanization are felt in almost all the aspects of urban centre.

Life in the city is fast-paced and exciting, but the hustle and bustle of big-city lives often comes at the expense of community and living space. The country offers plenty of room, views and immediate contact with nature, however, with the beauty comes the bad. The peace and quiet of the country also means fewer opportunities for students, job seekers and entrepreneurs. City residents enjoy a variety of housing types, from townhouses to apartment complexes, housing cooperatives to modern lofts. Communication, via cell phones and internet tend to be more reliable in the city, making it more convenient to live and work. Theaters, museums and dining offer a broad scope of culture and entertainment.

City dwellers generally have more access to educational and recreational activities, which also make metropolitan living attractive. Public transportation networks are more prolific, cutting costs and fuel emissions associated with car travel. Urban dwellers have smaller carbon footprints than country dwellers, according to research by experts. Government should make laws that will help to mitigate and control emissions from industrialization otherwise the aim of demarcating residential and industrial areas for the city will make no meaning. This style does not sustain urbanization.

The threats to sustainable development, numerous cities have taken steps to build resilience and address the growing climate-related risks posed to inhabited areas.

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