It’s Sink Or Swim For Asia Pacific’s Big Cities In War On Climate Change – Analysis
At the end of October 2021, in one of the biggest annual climate gatherings, COP26 aimed to secure global net-zero emissions by mid-century. This would be done through keeping the global temperature rise within 1.5 degrees Celsius, encouraging adaptation to protect communities and natural habitats, mobilising finance and accelerating actions through collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society.
Notably, it intended to finalise the Paris Rulebook — detailed procedures operationalising the Paris Agreement. In the lead up, countries were asked to declare ambitious emission reductions for 2030. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, countries from the Asia Pacific face the uphill task of reducing carbon emissions while recovering economically in pursuit of national development. The region already emits more than half of the world’s greenhouse gases (GHGs) and most of the population lives in low-lying dense agglomerations.
While the macroeconomic relation of trade and financial markets with climate change is thoroughly analysed, its manifestation within the urban economies needs to be better understood. Asian cities face a triple challenge of protecting people from growing climate hazards while addressing local economic development issues for improved standards of living and abatement of their national GHGs. Can these cities stand up to the global climate challenge?
The answer lies in their contributions to national GHGs, the robustness of climate policies compared to their Paris Agreement’s nationally determined contributions and level of capabilities in combatting the climate crisis. A handful of cities in the region contribute considerably to national GHGs — 1 per cent of the land area holds 75 per cent of the global carbon footprint in China.
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