Friday Fun: Write about your ideal city to win a trip to Masdar City

Embarq The City Fix - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 9:59am

This rendering from Masdar City shows one version of an ideal city of the future. What does your city look like? Photo by Forgemind Archimedia/Flickr.

What will your ideal city look like in 2030? That is the question of the third annual international blogging contest hosted by Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company behind Masdar City. One winner will receive a paid trip to Abu Dhabi – where Masdar City is located – in mid-January, 2015, and will serve as VIP blogger during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. The contest asks participants to think creatively about the future of urban planning. Blogs must be submitted by January 2, 2015, so don’t wait!

Cities worldwide are at the forefront of innovation and sustainability. How would your ideal city of the future thrive?

How will cities accommodate urban growth and protect the environment?

Cities are faced with a range of daunting challenges, but cities are also hotbeds for forward-thinking solutions. Cities are experiencing rapid population growth, and by 2030, the United Nations expects there to be 41 megacities with ten million people or more. This can strain resources and makes sustainable urban planning even more important. The Masdar blogging challenge invites participants to consider developments in water, waste, energy, food production, and transport. Cities of the future will need to drive economic growth that raises quality of life while also curbing greenhouse gas emissions and using resources responsibly.

Last year’s competition received 117 submissions from six continents to help generate a conversation around sustainable urban development.

Learning from Masdar City

Masdar City is an innovative community that may provide a glimpse into the future of sustainable cities. Masdar City aims to be the world’s most sustainable eco-city with narrow, shaded streets to keep the city cooler, rooftop solar panels, and an innovative integrated transport system. Transport in Masdar City will focus on walking, cycling, personal rapid transport, and electric-powered public transport options. At TheCityFix, we are working to envision what future cities might look like if there was no need for a car. Masdar City may be an early step towards this future.

While Masdar’s lofty goals are admirable, it is also a small community that doesn’t face the myriad of challenges in cities with existing infrastructure, inequality, and informality. To become truly “ideal,” all cities will need to pursue sustainable solutions that improve quality of life and meet specific local needs

Masdar City broke ground in 2008, and aims to provide a “greenprint” for how cities can reduce resource usage and accommodate growth. Photo by Inhabitat blog/Flickr.

Need more ideas about what the future of sustainable cities might look like? Look no further than TheCityFix!

Categories: Europe

Urbanism Hall of Fame: Enrique Peñalosa leads Bogotá’s inclusive urban transformation

Embarq The City Fix - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 4:00pm

With a focus on sustainable urbanism and social justice, Enrique Peñalosa used a wide variety of people-oriented policies that helped transform Bogotá. Photo by Colin Hughes/Flickr.

This is the seventh entry in the Urbanism Hall of Fame series, exclusive to TheCityFix. This series is intended to inform people about the leading paradigms surrounding sustainable transport and urban planning and the thinkers behind them. By presenting their many stories, TheCityFix seeks to challenge our readers to think carefully about what defines leadership and innovation in sustainable transport and urban development.

In 1997, Bogotá was one of the most unlikely places to stage an urban transformation. It had a long history of unmet government plans – some with the support of globally recognized architects like Le Corbusier; a frenzied, semi-formal public transport system known as the “war over the penny”; and its half-organized, half-chaotic urban development had led to great inequality and informality. Then, an economist turned urban planner – and follower of Jane Jacobs, Jan Gehl, and Francesco Tonucci – was elected mayor of the city: Enrique Peñalosa.

In only three years, Peñalosa led a transformation that still makes Colombia’s capital globally recognized for innovation in urban mobility and social justice. Some highlights of his legacy include the TransMilenio – one of the world’s most heavily used bus rapid transit (BRT) systems; the city’s social housing program; a large scale recuperation of parks and public spaces; more than 350 km of protected bikeways; thousands of square feet of recovered and new sidewalks; formalization of more than 300 informal settlements while providing sewerage and local access roads; three large public libraries and cultural centers; and strong transport demand management (TDM) policies such as restricting car usage and removing street parking.

Peñalosa has since become a popular speaker on urbanism, public transport, biking, and social justice. He has delivered his message in hundreds of places as well and web platforms, such as his TED talk on “Why Buses Represent Democracy in Action.” Bogotá’s transformation, and in particular it’s TransMilenio system, has been documented widely in sources ranging from The New York Times, to StreetFilms, to the Danish Film Institute. For his worldwide influence demonstrating the potential of sustainable urban transport and progressive development strategies in Bogotá, Enrique Peñalosa earns his place in TheCityFix’s Urbanism Hall of Fame.

Peñalosa’s professional background

Before becoming mayor, Enrique Peñalosa was a university professor at Universidad Externado de Colombia and an awarded economics columnist at El Espectador. He also worked with the Bogotá Public Water Company and Department of Cundinamarca, the region in which Bogotá is located. In 1986, he became economics advisor for Colombian President Virgilio Barco, where he helped create the urbanization program of Ciudad Salitre, a large undeveloped parcel west of Bogotá’s center. Here he promoted parks and public spaces, bikeways and open roads, mixed uses and good density, to create good quality living.

A transformative mayor

Peñalosa was elected to the House of Representatives in 1990 and ran for mayor twice before being elected in 1997 and serving until 2001. His vision was to build an equitable and sustainable society where the general interest dominates the interests of small groups and individuals. Policies that executed this vision include:

“Pico y Placa” restricts car usage to tackle congestion

Pico y Placa restricted use of 40% of vehicles during peak hours according to their license plate numbers. This strategy had an immediate effect, reducing travel times and prompting car users to share vehicles or shift to other transport modes. After Bogotá, more than 20 cities in Colombia and the rest of Latin America have used this strategy to reduce congestion and improve air quality. Along with increasing the fuel tax and removing parking spaces, “Pico y Placa” clearly signaled an effort to rationalize car use by advantaging the majority of road users who used public transport over the city’s smaller group of car users.

“Carrera 15 Sidewalks” creates high quality pedestrian spaces

This project, which Peñalosa inherited from the previous administration, expanded lighting, trees and street furniture on sidewalks while eliminating parking. The project was very controversial with shop owners, who organized an unsuccessful impeachment. The project, however, revitalized a major shopping street, spurring the project’s expansion to sidewalks all over the city in the following years.

Biblioteca Barco becomes an important community asset

Before Peñalosa became mayor, the city lacked public libraries and cultural centers. Peñalosa commissioned architect Rogelio Salmona to build the Biblioteca Barco building. Salmona created a masterpiece in the center of a new park. Two more libraries in low-income areas were opened under Peñalosa, helping expand cultural and public spaces.

Metrovivienda takes a new approach to affordable housing

Historically, a shortage of low-income housing was addressed with subsidized loans rather than by building communities. The Metrovivienda El Recreo project changed that custom by establishing quality urban infrastructure like roads, sidewalks, parks, and utilities before asking private developers to complete social housing under strict conditions. Requirements included minimum square footage, quality, and maximum prize. As one resident of Metrovivienda told me, “this is the best neighborhood in the city”; this author and Bogotá native feels he is right.

Alameda El Porvenir is an early example of pedestrianization

Bogotá’s roads were traditionally built without sidewalks; Alameda El Porvenir, on the other hand, is a sidewalk-bikeway that does not allow motorized vehicles, making it one of the longest pedestrian and bike-only streets in the world. Located in a low-income area, the 17 km (10.5 mile) promenade provides accessibility and a recreational space for thousands of residents, connecting them to new schools, day care centers, parks and a library.

Peñalosa’s mayorship, however, was not without controversy among a number of groups. These included residents of gated communities who did not want their illegal barriers removed; country club members who did not want part of their property turned into a public park; the school teacher’s union that opposed a scheme for high quality public chartered schools; taxi cab drivers that feared regulation; small bus owners and rail transit promoters scared of the change brought by the TransMilenio, and many other special interest groups. These groups struggled against Peñalosa when he tried twice to be re-elected. In spite of a high level of popularity upon ending his term, Peñalosa has not returned to office.

Now Peñalosa is regarded as an excellent administrator but not a “good politician” – many politicians excel at getting elected and retaining power, but fall short at meeting their promises. His influence on urbanism, however, is undeniable. While no city is without its flaws, Bogotá is still considered a great example of what can be done with strong political leadership, capable staff oriented to implementation, and adequate levels of funding. Peñalosa put sustainable mobility and urban development policy into practice, and inspired hundreds of cities worldwide.

Categories: Europe

189 cities and counting: Track the growth of bus rapid transit on the redesigned!

Embarq The City Fix - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 2:13pm

The redesigned platform shows the global rise in bus rapid transit and bus priority corridors, and allows users to compare bus systems across a wide range of metrics. Photo by Mariana Gil/EMBARQ Brasil.

Every day, more than 31 million people use bus rapid transit (BRT) systems and bus corridors in 189 cities. From Istanbul to Mexico City, BRT is saving people time, improving the environment, and making cities safer, more sustainable places to live worldwide. Does your city have BRT? Or, is your city planning a new system? You can find out that and much more on the redesigned platform.

With 19.3 million passengers per day, cities in Latin America account for 62% of all BRT or bus priority users. Brazil alone has more than 12 million daily passengers across 33 cities – with over three million in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro each. Asia comes in second with 27% of global ridership, while the United States now has 18 cities with BRT or bus priority corridors.

New BRT systems launch and expand each month, and access to updated and reliable information becomes essential as their use grows., a global database that gathers information about BRT and bus priority systems around the world, has been the leading source for this information since launching in 2012.

Now, after more than two years online, has been through a major redesign that allows you to visualize, compare, and analyze bus rapid transit in cities worldwide.

New BRT Panorama tool lets you compare across cities

One of the main new features of is the BRT Panorama tool. This interactive tool makes it possible for users to personalize their search, combining different indicators to generate comparative charts and visualize data. The system includes data on over 100 characteristics of BRT systems related to operations, design, cost, and metrics such as operating speed, annual demand, fuel economy, and fleet age. The tool even allows you to see which cities are planning new BRT systems. The site is updated monthly with new systems, corridors, and cities, and allows users to download new data reports and comparative charts as PDF files. These features provide data in a much more dynamic and accessible way. is managed by EMBARQ Brasil. According to Director Luis Antonio Lindau, “All the information is frequently updated, and makes it available for everyone. Bus priority systems have grown significantly in recent years and are increasingly being adopted by cities as a mobility solution. Making that information regarding existing systems available on a single platform provides a huge boost to sustainable transport and can encourage cities to adopt similar measures in future projects.”

Graphic by EMBARQ Brasil.

An interactive, user-friendly interface

The retooled also boasts new visualization features, an improved search interface, and a more intuitive layout. The site is a resource for everyone from academics who use the data for research to those who simply want to know more about bus priority systems worldwide.

Exploring the data is now quick, dynamic, and interactive, and available at the world, country, and city levels. You can even see individual bus corridors on city maps, and see street-level pictures of a bus system itself – like the image of Curitiba’s BRT in the infographic below.

Graphic by EMBARQ Brasil.

Why do we need data?

With each site update, the number of cities that invest in bus priority systems grows: since the site’s launch in 2012, the number of cities with BRT systems and bus corridors rose 41%, from 134 to 189 cities worldwide.

Documenting the rise of BRT and bus corridors shows the progress of sustainable urban mobility worldwide. “The challenge of maintaining a platform with updated information about bus corridors and BRT is huge. Today, we already have data from almost 200 cities and we also monitor the 300 bus and BRT corridors planned or under construction. The effort to update the numbers is rewarded by the growing use of the site,” describes Cristina Albuquerque, Transport Engineer at EMBARQ Brasil and manager of the data on

The platform is also helping academic researchers and public and private sector professionals make better decisions about urban mobility projects. “It is very impressive how has become the most relevant reservoir of BRT and BRT-like corridors worldwide. It is quite common to read in scientific and professional documents that our website is where authors are looking for the most updated information. We ask everyone involved in this industry to visit this database for information and contribute information to update, correct, and complete what we have managed to gather,” says Juan Carlos Muñoz, Director of Across Latitudes and Cultures – Bus Rapid Transit (ALC-BRT).

Do you want to explore BRT and bus corridors in cities worldwide? Visit!

Categories: Europe

The Arrogance of Space - Sao Paulo, Brazil

Copenhagenize - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 9:48am
We felt it was time for another look at the Arrogance of Space, this time applying our filter to an intersection in Sao Paulo, Brazil.Our friend and colleague Dora Moreira took this photo for us last week - Dec 2015 - of the intersection of Praça Julio Mesquita - Avenues São João & Rua Vitória. It was 16:40 on a Saturday. Looks nice and quiet with not a lot of traffic of any sort. We are, however, looking at the space allocated to various transport forms.When you apply the colours to the photo, you start to see The Arrogance of Space emerge. This photo is a little deceptive because it is not completely aerial. The yellow of the buildings dominates, so let's focus on the streetspace. Despite being in the heart of Sao Paulo, pedestrians are not afforded very much space. The angry red of the roads emerges as the clear winner in the space sweepstakes.A token strip of purple denotes some sort of bike lane - far from anything we recognise as Best Practice. Not to mention the fact that paint does little to keep cyclists safe. The Mayor of Sao Paulo is talking up bicycle infrastructure. If THIS is what he has in mind, we're not impressed.Some leafy trees are visible - the one in the foreground is on a small square - and some line the streets. (Not everyone has time to sit on a bench - most have to go from A to B.)Take away the photo and The Arrogance of Space is revealed. We doubt that the street on the left actually needs four lanes. Narrow them down, expand the sidewalks and implement cycle tracks on both sides.It's what a modern city would do.Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Europe

The need to visualize public transit data for better bus systems in India

Embarq The City Fix - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 3:49pm

As Indian cities invest in information technology services, minimum standards should require the use of visualization tools to better utilize transport data and improve bus planning. Photo by EMBARQ.

Over the past decade, many transit agencies in Indian cities have implemented information technology services (ITS) to improve bus planning and operations in urban areas. These typically require huge investments financed either by the city government or by the transit agency alone. However, using such technologies alone does not guarantee tangible improvements in level of service. Without the appropriate analytic tools to analyze transit data, technology implementation results in the mere procurement of hardware that generates a huge amount of data without supporting any real decision-making.

Minimum standards must be created that require transit agencies to use various analytic methods and create easy-to-read operational reports that can be generated from this rich data as part of the technology procurement process. Better visualizations and analytic tools can make use of valuable transit data to provide a wide range of insights for transit agencies – from whether buses are arriving on time to which bus stations are used most – improving transport planning and the user experience.

Current ITS reports waste the potential for useful data analysis

Indore became the first Indian city to implement an Automatic Vehicle Location System (AVLS) to track public buses in 2006, while Mysore is the most recent city to deploy AVLS technology. Still, the format of AVLS-generated reports has hardly changed over time. AVLS’s are used to create a wide range of reports, including:

  • Speed violation reports
  • Skipped stops reports
  • Missed trips reports
  • Improper stopping reports
  • Route deviation reports
  • Harsh breaking/rapid acceleration reports
  • Schedule adherence reports

While these reports seem important, the format in which they present data makes it difficult to draw any conclusions from them. For example, one day’s harsh breaking report generated from the AVLS system in Mysore ran hundreds of pages. Similarly, the schedule adherence report for a single day is 130 pages, a sample of which is shown below.

This sample extract from a schedule adherence report shows that despite the information’s importance, the report’s format makes it difficult for transport planners to draw any conclusions. Image from Mysore ITS Report 2013/EMBARQ India.

Further, the system generates reports on issues of little use for urban transit planning. For example, it generates speed violation and route deviation reports, despite the fact that buses operate on extremely congested roads, and there is not much possibility of a driver deviating from his or her route while carrying passengers.

Currently, the only practical use of AVLS’s in public transport in Indian cities is passenger information systems that display the anticipated arrival time of the next bus at a stop. However, there has not been any research on the accuracy of these systems. Similarly, data from electronic ticketing machines is often only used for daily earnings and passenger count reports, despite their vast potential.

Making ITS data useful through data visualizations and analyses

The use of simple visualization techniques using data generated by ITS can transform these monotonous reports into powerful tools for transit managers. EMBARQ India’s Bus Karo 2.0 report provides examples of visualizations developed from AVLS and electronic ticketing data that can improve planning by answering key planning questions.

Are bus schedules reliable?

By representing schedule adherence report data in a graph comparing time of day and bus stops, an entire day’s worth of data for a bus can be shown in a single image, as shown below. The yellow line shows where buses should be located at a given time, represented by cumulative distance traveled (route chainage). The gray line clearly shows where a bus driver deviates from his or her schedule.

This bus schedule adherence report visualization from Bhubaneshwar can show the reliability of individual bus drivers. Graphic by EMBARQ India.

This data could also be translated into a quantitative measure, which would enable a transit manager to rank each driver and identify the best and worst performers. This information can be used to implement a rewards and penalties incentive system to encourage drivers to adhere to the schedule.

Using the same AVLS data from all buses on a particular route, a simple graphical representation of arrival patterns can be created to understand the reliability of the transit service. The graphic below shows the variation in times between buses arriving at a particular stop – known as “headway.” The yellow line shows that buses are scheduled to arrive at consistent intervals, though the gray lines show that the time between bus arrivals varies.

This headway analysis report from a stop in Bhubaneswar shows the inconsistency of bus arrivals. In a scenario where the planned arrival time is consistent throughout the day, a standard deviation of zero would correspond to total reliability. Graphic by EMBARQ India.

Which bus stops do passengers use most?

Just like AVLS data, ticketing data from electronic ticketing machines can also be used to develop graphics that improve transit planning. For example, the data can be used to map ridership and boarding and alighting (disembarking) patterns at each bus stop, as shown in the graphics below.

This graphic shows ridership at each stop – called the “load curve” – created from electronic ticketing machine data in Visakhapatnam. Graphic by EMBARQ India.

This boarding and alighting (disembarking) visualization is created from data collected in Bangalore. Graphic by EMBARQ India.

Creating new standards for ITS reports

ITS are of no practical use unless combined with visual and analytical tools that process the data generated to help understand performance and evaluate the effectiveness of a particular route or the transit system as a whole. This potential has not yet been reached in any of the cases where ITS are being used in Indian cities. Developing a manual on the minimum standards for data visualizations and analytics from transit data could make it easy for transit agencies to include these deliverables as part of ITS procurement, thus making effective use of the enormous sums of money spent on ITS technology.

Learn more about visualization and transit management in EMBARQ India’s Bus Karo 2.0 report.

Categories: Europe

Seven ways Belo Horizonte, Brazil inspires sustainable cities

Embarq The City Fix - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 3:15pm

From developing bus rapid transit to improving public spaces, Belo Horizonte, Brazil is working to become a sustainable city. Photo by Eduardo Beltrame.

Belo Horizonte, Brazil is a city of remarkable cuisine, green spaces, and architecture. The city is increasingly designed using people-oriented urban development strategies that prioritize the people who make the city come alive.

Even for outsiders, this state capital feels like home. A number of initiatives are transforming the city into an example of best practices for sustainable transport, people-oriented spaces, and resilience to landslides and floods. In honor of the city’s 117th birthday, here are seven things worth celebrating about Belo Horizonte:

1. Making room for people

Belo Horizonte transformed Paraná street by creating people-oriented spaces and making room for public transport. Compared to its previous design (shown in the top picture), the street’s new design (shown in the bottom picture) improves mobility, the landscape, and safety. Before photo via Google Maps, after photo by Luisa Zottis/EMBARQ Brasil.

Paraná street – located in the city’s center – provides one of the best examples of how to revitalize urban spaces. Before its transformation, the avenue was a space for cars. Today, it is designed to better serve pedestrians, public transport, and cyclists.

2. High quality public transport

The MOVE bus rapid transit system was designed using international best practices. Photo by Mariana Gil/EMBARQ Brasil.

Launched about one year ago, Belo Horizonte’s MOVE bus rapid transit (BRT) system was planned according to international best practices with support from EMBARQ Brasil. Designed to be the city’s official transport system for the World Cup, the MOVE BRT system still benefits 480,000 people every day even without the influx of tourists.

3. Making bicycling easier

People of all ages have room to ride safely on Risoleta Neves Avenue, which contains part of the 2.2 km (1.4 mile) bike path from Saramenha Avenue to St. Gabriel BHBus Station. Photo by the Municipality of Belo Horizonte/Flickr.

Belo Horizonte has more than 70 km (43 miles) of bike paths. Initiatives such as Pedal BH, BH in Cycle, and Belo Horizonte’s Bike Angel program help promote cycling as an alternative means of transport. The city also has 400 public bicycles, available at 40 stations through its Bike BH bike-share program.

4. More green spaces that make for a more enjoyable city

Belo Horizonte’s parks give residents access to green spaces for leisure and social interaction. Photo by Mariana Gil/EMBARQ Brasil.

With more than 40 public parks, Belo Horizonte has 18 square meters (194 square feet) of green space per inhabitant. Spaces conducive to leisure, physical activity, and cultural interaction are critical to quality of life and public healthResearch shows that well-kept city parks and green areas make people happier.

5. Resilience efforts recognized by the United Nations

Belo Horizonte’s Civil Defense Initiative was recognized by the U.N. For the past 11 years, there have been no deaths from landslides in the city. Photo by Belo Horizonte City Hall/Flickr.

There have been no recorded deaths in Belo Horizonte due to landslides since 2003, and there have only been three deaths from flooding in the past three years. In 2013, the city won the U.N. Sasakawa Award, which is the world’s largest prize for resilient cities. The city’s main natural challenges are its hilly terrain and 700 km (435 miles) of streams, which makes it prone to flooding and landslides. Transport systems must also be prepared for these risks. One of the keys to Belo Horizonte’s improved resilience was the creation of the Risk Areas Executive Group (GEAR), which convenes city government agencies and officials every Monday to discuss and plan mitigation actions.

6. Pedestrianized streets

Pedestrianized streets create public spaces for people to enjoy. Photo by Mariana Gil/EMBARQ Brasil.

Cities are our homes, at least for over half the world’s population. Residents interact with the urban environment every day, whether walking on the streets, riding public transport, or in their car. It is essential that cities create people-oriented spaces that encourage social interaction.

7. Bonus: The sunset is beautiful

Belo Horizonte’s Mangabeiras Lookout provides a first-class view of the sensational sunset over the city. It is a must-see for those visiting Belo Horizonte. TheCityFix Brasil – partner blog of TheCityFix – accompanied the winner of its “city in an instant” photo competition, Eduardo Beltrame, who chose a visit to Belo Horizonte as his prize for winning the competition.

This post originally appeared in Portuguese on TheCityFix Brasil

Categories: Europe

Street Photography from the World's Youngest Urbanist

Copenhagenize - Sat, 12/13/2014 - 3:21am
Everybody sees their city differently. What does the city look like through the eyes of The World's Youngest Urbanist? Lulu-Sophia keeps delivering a solid flow of pure observations about city life. She also grows up in a home filled with cameras and has free access to all of them. What about putting those two things together, I thought.Some Canon camera, be it 5 or 7D is usually lying in the window sill at our place. I often find photos on the memory card that Lulu-Sophia had taken of people out on the street in front of our flat. She just started picking up the camera and shooting. A couple of years ago I started handed her the camera when we're riding around on the Bullitt cargo bike.I never say what she should take photos of. I just say "take photos if you want". Totally up to her and no big deal if she doesn't. Sometimes I don't notice what she does but when I load the photos onto the computer, I get to see what she sees. And it is quite wonderful.I've made a little set of her street photography work on Flickr from when she was five but here are some of her shots from the urban landscape. Both from the flat and from the Bullitt.By and large, she photographs people. Still Life must be like watching paint dry for a five year old. Humans, please. Except, perhaps, for a pretty red bicycle (farther down) that caught her eye. People doing things. Transporting themselves, waiting for someone, observing - in their own way - their city. Humans watching humans. There are many bicycles, mostly because it's like shooting fish in a barrel in Copenhagen. You can't take a shot without a bicycle in it. When shooting from the flat, she shoots cyclists and pedestrians. And of course, the set wouldn't be complete without a shot of your big brother, Felix.Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Europe

Peru’s climate leaders awarded over $11 million for low-carbon urban transport

Embarq The City Fix - Fri, 12/12/2014 - 3:33pm

Peru recently received an $11 million grant from the NAMA facility that will help the country attract significant funding for its multi-billion dollar sustainable urban transport improvement plans. Photo by Anton Muhajir/Flickr.

Peru was recently awarded €9 million ($11.14 million) for its urban transport Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMA) by the German and British NAMA facility. This climate finance award will allow the Peruvian government to leverage $50 million from development aid agencies – especially KfW, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and CAF Development Bank of Latin America – and much more from the private sector.

This money will fund the Peruvian urban transport NAMA, called Trans-NAMA, an ambitious package of infrastructure investment, new climate-friendly regulations and institutional reforms that will reduce Peruvian greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector by four million tons of CO2-equivalent over the next decade and improve quality of life. This is equivalent to the emissions reductions from taking 760,000 cars off the road for a year. Peru’s Trans-NAMA has been jointly developed by the Peruvian Ministries of Environment and Transport, with support from GIZ-Transfer, the World Resources Institute (WRI), the Low Emissions Development Strategies Global Partnership (LEDS-GP), Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUC), Transitemos, and other local partners.

This award reflects Peru’s leadership in addressing climate change through the transport sector. As national leaders at COP20 look for ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Peru’s efforts highlight the role of sustainable, integrated urban transport in curbing emissions at the country and city-level and demonstrate the potential for NAMAs and climate finance in general to complement large-scale investments in low-carbon infrastructure.

Peru’s sustainable urban transport plans are part of broad GHG mitigation efforts

Peru’s total GHG emissions are only a small fraction of the global total. However, the country’s emissions are expected to rise rapidly as its population and economy grow. While 40.9% of emissions come from the forestry sector, transport represents the largest share of overall energy-related emissions at 40%.

The average Peruvian vehicle fleet is 14 years old, resulting in high specific emission levels, and the number of vehicles has nearly doubled between 2000 and 2014. As a result, transport-related emissions increased by almost 50% in the last decade.

While 60% of trips in Peru still take place on public transport, private vehicle use has been rapidly increasing, causing severe road congestion – traffic moves at a sluggish 14 km per hour (8.6 mph) on average – as well as air pollution and traffic crashes. The social cost of congestion in Lima alone is $7 billion per year. Current problems will be aggravated if the trend towards car-dominated cities and metropolitan areas continues.

Peru’s NAMA aims to reverse this trend by providing high-quality public transport and optimizing the country’s vehicle fleet. The impact of these actions will be broadened by explicitly targeting selected medium-sized cities adjacent to the Lima metropolitan area and at the national level.

To deal with the challenge of rising vehicle ownership, Peru plans a multi-billion dollar effort to encourage sustainable transport by expanding bike lanes and Lima’s metro system, strengthening transport regulation such as fuel economy standards, and advancing institutional reforms to ensure comprehensive governance over urban transport. While the NAMA grant will supply only a small part of funding needed, it will significantly improve Peru’s ability to attract public and private financing. On December 4, 2014 the Inter-American Development Bank announced plans to provide at least $1 billion in loans for Lima’s metro.

Most of the planned improvements will be concentrated in Lima and Callao, home to about 30% of the Peruvian population and the country’s economic hub. Some 60% of Lima’s residents use public transport, and an expanded metro line will help maintain this share. 

In addition to reducing GHG emissions, the Peruvian Climate Action Plan shows that more sustainable transport can save an estimated 18 million hours of travel time, reduce air pollution, improve public health, give better access to public transport, enhance social equity, and cut down on traffic accidents.

Peru demonstrates best practices in using transport NAMA

T-NAMAs present a unique opportunity for developing countries to receive recognition and support for efforts to curb GHG emissions from transport. T-NAMAs get away from the traditional project-based approach to embrace a policy or sector approach. This new tool can rely on the globally recognized Avoid-Shift-Improve framework. More cities are using T-NAMAs to pursue sustainable, low-carbon transport. Though most are concentrated in Latin America, stakeholders from cities worldwide are increasingly engaged in T-NAMA preparation.

Peru’s NAMA award comes at an opportune time, as national leaders from around the world look for an agreement on long-term climate action in Lima. Global transport emissions are increasing faster than any other sector, and nearly 90% of the growth in carbon dioxide emissions from transport is expected to occur in non-OECD countries, making it increasingly important for national officials to learn from Peru’s leadership in combating climate change through sustainable transport.

Categories: Europe

Increasing mode share of bus transport in Indian cities

Embarq The City Fix - Fri, 12/12/2014 - 11:00am

EMBARQ India is releasing Bus Karo 2.0, which analyzes bus services in cities across India and will inform urban planners, designers, and bus operators in order to help increase bus mode share. Photo by Benoit Colin/EMBARQ.

Like many cities around the world, Indian cities are experiencing urbanization, motorization, and increasing congestion. Coupled with declining public transport use and infrastructure expenditures that promote a car culture by building roads and flyovers (overpasses), Indian cities are losing out on the standard of living that residents deserve. The next decade requires focus on precise and system-wide improvements. The call of the hour is to introduce operational, infrastructural, technological, marketing, and financing innovations to double the mode share of public buses in the next decade. For Indian cities to be livable, city bus and bus rapid transit (BRT) systems must become an integral part of urban development.

Buses are the backbone of urban mobility in India

As of 2005, buses made up over 90% of public transport in Indian cities, and serve as a cheap and convenient mode of transport. There are approximately 35,000 buses operational in Indian cities. Of these, eight of the biggest cities – Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, and Pune – account for 80% of all buses.

Pilot initiatives and bus reforms in recent years have reinforced that city bus systems will continue to be the backbone of urban mobility in India because they are cost effective, more sustainable, and easier to implement than other infrastructure-heavy mass transit systems like metros. The graph below shows the current mode share of bus transport in ten major Indian cities.

Bus mode share varies significantly from city to city in India. Graphic by EMBARQ India. Data from 2007-2011 (excludes non-motorized trips).

How can Indian cities improve bus services?

Recognizing the need for improved bus services, many Indian cities have transformed mobility through the implementation of innovative bus transit solutions in recent years. For example, the BIG Bus Network in Bangalore provides high-frequency bus services along major arterials in the city, a driver training fuel efficiency program – initiated by the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) – has now been implemented by bus operators in cities across the country, and BRT systems have been introduced in cities like Indore and Bhopal, to name a few. To ensure that city bus services continue to be major transport modes, promoting innovation among bus operators is imperative.

While these advancements have begun to establish best practices for Indian cities, there is still need to examine the challenges faced and the lessons learned during implementation and continued operations. In addition, greater effort is required for these innovations to succeed in the long term. The industry is comprised of several authorities and players, facing various difficulties. Bus manufacturers, for example, continue to use truck chassis to build buses, compromising their safety, comfort, and convenience. There is also a shortage of skilled workers to manage adequate maintenance and operations standards, which is a significant problem for operating agencies. Furthermore, there is a lack of coordination among multiple players to allocate land for transit infrastructure needs, resulting in the industry falling short of its potential.

Today, EMBARQ India is releasing Bus Karo 2.0 – Case Studies from India, which provides an overview of the current state of urban public transport systems in India. Findings in the report highlight the phenomenal growth of bus transport and the implementation of new technologies, service financing methods, and management techniques. The report takes a close look at key areas like planning and operations, support infrastructure, fuel efficiency training and management, technology applications, branding and marketing, and financing models. The map below shows the extensive work by EMBARQ India analyzed in the publication.

EMBARQ India is improving bus systems in cities across the country. Graphic by EMBARQ India.

The way forward is to maintain this momentum and gradually work towards increasing public transport’s mode share in Indian cities. Specifically, EMBARQ India transport experts strongly recommend that by 2020, bus transport in Indian cities should comprise at least half of the modal share of all motorized trips in cities with at least 10 million people and at least one-third of the modal share in small and medium-sized cities. As mobility needs change, it is important that a city’s transit system responds effectively and swiftly. Bus transport has proven to be flexible to such changes with minimal investment and greater efficiency.

To learn more about bus transport in Indian cities, read the full Bus Karo 2.0 report here.

Categories: Europe

Bicycles in Language

Copenhagenize - Fri, 12/12/2014 - 6:18am
I have always been fascinated by how the bicycle has muscled its way into various languages. There are numerous bicycle references in Danish that are used by reflex, without any direct reference to a bicycle anecdote. I started wondering if this is the case in other languages and have scribbled notes down based on conversations with colleagues and friends.According to Danish historian Finn Wodschow, there are more references to the bicycle in Danish literature, music and film than in any other country. Not surprisingly, there are a few bicycle-related expressions that have embedded themselves even deeper in the linguistic culture.If you know of any others, in other languages, feel free to add them in the comments.DANISHKæden er hoppede af"The chain fell off" is used when something goes wrong. Example:"Sorry I'm late, but the chain fell off for me today".You can also claim that the chain fell off for someone else, if they are having a bad day, or screwed up.Cykler rundt i det"Cycling around in it" is used to describe someone who is confused or talking about something without really getting to the point.Example:"That politician is really cycling around in it."Medvind & modvind"Tailwind & headwind" are pretty self-explanatory. Although while in English the word tailwind originates in aviation, in Danish the translation is more generic. "With wind" and "Against wind". Denmark is a windy place. It's also a sailing nation. Wind factors in to many aspects of life. Because of a long, proud bicycle history, however, these two words are used often in the language. Example:If things are going very well for you in your life... "Sounds like you really have a 'with wind' at the moment! Great!"Or if things aren't going so good, "Yeah, my company is in a bit of a headwind this year."Sol eller vind"Sun or wind". When your Nordic citizens, by and large, have spent great amounts of time transporting themselves on bicycles for over a century, things get boiled down to the basics. Sun is good. Wind is bad. Indeed, since 1934, two statues have looked out over City Hall Square. One is a woman on a bicycle who rotates out when it is fair weather and one is a woman with an umbrella, who rotates out when the forecast is for rain. THAT'S how important sun and wind are here.Example:How is your new relationship going? "Not sure. It's sun and wind."Gi' baghjul or Vis baghjulTo "give backwheel" is a very good thing, unless you're the one who was given it. You can also "show" your backwheel to someone if you want to get ahead of them in whatever sense. This one orginates in cycle sport, but is used in all aspects of Danish life.Example:"Give cancer the backwheel!" is actually a campaign to raise money for children with cancer. A TV show can give another competing show backwheel if they beat them in the ratings. And so on.Ligge i baghjul"Lying on the backwheel" - essentially 'drafting' in English - is not something you want to do but it can also be a good thing.Example: A political party can lie on the backwheel of a competing party, meaning they are being beaten in the polls. You can, however, also say "Now I'm lying on his backwheel", meaning you have risen up the ranks and are breathing down a competitor's neck, ready to overtake and put yourself in the lead.Højere gearTo move into a "higher gear" is generally considered to indicate that you are speeding up, gaining momentum, going to the next level.Example:We really have to go to a higher gear on this project...Køre på frihjulTo "ride on a free wheel" in English (see farther down) is regarded as a good thing, suggesting freedom. If somebody gets a "free ride", however, it is not generally very good at all. Which is the meaning in Danish.Gi' den fuld pedalTo "give it full pedal" means to speed up, accelerate, go hard.Example:We have to give it full pedal if we're going to make the deadline.Hold kæden stram"Keep your chain tight". Meaning "hang in there" when you're doing something, be it working towards a deadline, going through a rough patch in your life, and so on.FRENCHAs a country with a proud cycling history, the bicycle has made several linguistic contributions to French.Sucer la roueEssentially "sucking the wheel", this is French for sitting tight on the backwheel of the cyclist in front of you. Same as the Danish meaning and used in other areas of life.La tete dans le guidonHaving "the head on the handlebars" is not considered a good thing. If your forehead is on the handlebars, you're not watching where you're going. You are distant and inattentive.Dejanté This means riding without tires. (Quick historical aside: During wartime, all over Europe, rubber was hard to get a hold of. It was often necessary to cycle on the rims. In Denmark, and probably elsewhere, if you couldn't get inner tubes, you stuffed your tires with grass or hay in a desperate attempt at a softer ride.)In French it is used to describe someone with odd, inconsistent behaviour or behaviour outside the norm.Perdre les pédalesIf you "lose the pedals", things are not good. You are losing control or going crazy. Dates from the age before the free wheel when the pedals just went round and round in a world of their own. Can't keep up? You've lost it.Changer de braquet"Changing the gears" means, like in Danish, to get moving, go to the next level.En roue libreDirectly translated as "in free wheel" this expression exists in French, like it does in Danish and English. In French it means "without restraint" or "easily, without additional effort". Clearly different than the Danish, but positive like in English.Bécyk a pédalesMostly shortened to plain old "Bécyk", this is a slang for the bicycle unique to Quebec French. It is a mutation of the English word bicycle and has generally had a derogatory connotation. Just short of ridicule of a transport form for poor, working class people. I have heard it used, however, more and more often in Quebecois as a generic slang for bicycle.Avec pas d'casqueTranslated simply as "With no helmet", this phrase went in the opposite direction, from ice hockey to general use, including urban cycling, and is another phrase unique to Quebec French. Helmets started to appear in North American ice hockey in the 1970s. They were made mandatory in 1979 but players who had signed a contract before 1 June, 1979 were not obliged to do so. Many top players from Quebec were known for their flowing hair and the expression became associated with a kind of freestyle attitude. Someone with flair and style. The current mayor of Le Plateau, Luc Ferrandez cycles without a helmet and pas d'casque has been used to describe him in more ways than one.DUTCHOp n oude fiets moet je het lerenIt may have other applications, but it is also has sexual connotations. "You have to learn it on an old bike" can be used to describe a young man dating an older woman.Fietsenrek"Bike rack". Used to describe the gap in a child's teeth when they lose the front ones. A hole big enough to park a bike in.Op die fietsThis translates as "on that bike". The meaning is akin to "oh, THAT'S what you mean", when you just realised it.Wat heb ik nou aan mijn fiets hangen?"What's hanging from my bike now?" is the translation and it means something like "What weird thing is happening now?" or, quite possibly, just WTF!?In de wielen rijden"Riding in the wheels" and it refers to obstructive behaviour.Ga toch fietsen!While the translation is "just go cycling", it really means "piss off!"Omfietswijn"To bike wine" sounds weird when translated, but it describes a bottle of wine that is good value (meaning cheap... they are Dutch after all) and worth making a detour to buy it.Luchtfietserij"Cycling in the sky" and meaning making completely unrealistic plans. (That architect Norman Foster just calls it Sky Cycling)Als je dat gelooft, dan krijg je een fietsIn English this is "If you believe that, you'll believe anything. In Dutch it is "if you believe that, you get a bicycle."RUSSIANNo need to invent the bicycleWhen somebody tries to invent something that isn't needed because it's already well-established and works perfectly, you get to chuck out this phrase in Russian.RUSSIAN?The best thing since the bicycleIn my notes I have this written down, but I can't remember exactly where it is from. It might be Russian or another Slavic language. In English something can be called the best thing since sliced bread. In this language something really fantastic is called the best thing since the bicycle. Because let's face it, the bicycle was a pretty great invention.Any help in tracking this expression is welcome.ENGLISHAs easy as riding a bicycle & just like riding a bicycleThese two well-known expressions in English are worth mentioning. If something is effortless or easy, it's as easy as riding a bicycle. If something - generally a skill - is easy to remember, it's just like riding a bicycle.Freewheeling/FreewheelerThis expression has its root in the early days of the bicycle. In contrast to Danish (see farther up the list), it is generally a good thing to be a freewheeler. Just as the invention of the free wheel was a pretty good thing, too, so you didn't have to keep pedalling and could just relax.Breakneck (speed)Again, from back in the day when privileged white boys who could afford the early models of bicycles like the Penny Farthing took to racing them against each other. If you went over the handlebars at speed on a Penny Farthing, breaking your neck was a realistic possibility.CoastingCoasting downhill on a bicycle was/is a pleasure. This word still lingers in English. Training WheelsNot totally embedded in English, but still instantly understandable. "I think it's time to take your training wheels off" - which could be good or a bit condescending, depending on the context.On yer bikeMore widespread in the UK, if you say 'on yer bike' to someone, you are basically saying, "get lost".Town Bike or Village BikeOn a less positive note, a promiscuous woman can be called the town bicycle/ the village bicycle because, it is claimed, everyone has had a ride.BackpedalingHow did I forget this one? Totally rooted in bicycle culture. Meaning retracting your argument or changing your opinion in the face of opposition.Handlebar MoustacheYeah. No guesses as to where THAT description of certain style of hairy upper lip came from.Add any others you may know in the comments or @ me on Twitter @copenhagenizeBicycle references in Danish cultureHere are some other, general descriptions using the bicycle from the annals of Danish culture that I've discovered through the years."One sits on it either straight-backed, as though you're at a festive dinner party, or hunched foward, as though you just failed an exam. All according to the situation, your inclination or your inborn characteristics.""And like a large home Copenhagen begins the day's work. Already down on the streets is one at home, with loose hair, long sitting rooms through which one travels socialbly on a bike. In offices, in workshops, in boutiques you are at home, in your own home, one large family that has divided the city among itself and runs it in an orderly fashion, like a large house. So that everyone has a role and everyone gets what they need. Copenhagen is like a large, simple house.""In the stream of cycles over Knippels Bridge we see Gudrun again, pedaling steadily. As though her and the machine are one. She is Copenhagen and Copenhagen is her.""If one (Ed. cyclist) is bumped by a car, the whole school is bumped. It's a nerve one has in the elbow, a flock function, which Copenhageners have learned so well that it is second nature".The above three by Johannes V. Jensen, from the novel Gudrun / 1936Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Europe

Join TheCityFix team as a writer and editor!

Embarq The City Fix - Thu, 12/11/2014 - 2:43pm

TheCityFix, produced by the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, is now accepting applications for a full-time writer and blogger in its Washington, DC headquarters. Are you up for the challenge? Photo by Carlos Felipe Pardo/Flickr.

Are you passionate about creating sustainable, thriving cities? Do you have the skills to translate complex, technical material into compelling content for an engaged online community? Do you want to work for a top-tier environment and global development think tank? By now I hope you’re furiously shaking your head yes, because TheCityFix has an opportunity for you!

TheCityFix, an online network dedicated to advancing the conversation on sustainable cities and urban mobility, is now accepting applications for a Writing and Editing Intern in its Washington, D.C office. TheCityFix is produced by the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, a new global program working to improve quality of life for millions of people around the world.

Read on for more information, or apply today.

About the job

The WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities is seeking a creative professional to assist its Marketing and Communications team in generating content for blog and news section, as well as monthly email newsletters. This internship is ideal for recent graduates or early-career professionals in communications, marketing, public relations, environmental studies, urban studies, English, liberal arts, or related studies. You will get real world experience in a fast-paced environment. Internships may vary in length depending on your schedule, interest, and abilities.

The WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities integrates WRI’s global analysis and builds on its on-the-ground experience in urban planning, sustainable transport, energy, climate change, water management, and governance. The Center galvanizes action that will help cities grow more sustainably and improve quality of life in developing countries around the world. It operates through a global network of offices in Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Turkey, and Washington, D.C. where this internship will be located.


 The intern will gain experience in the following areas:

  • 70% Edit, write, and publish online as support to experts
  • 15% Research news stories, blogs, new initiatives and trends, interact with and assist WRI experts in promoting their work
  • 10% Email marketing
  • 5% Organize content on websites, databases, social media

Required qualifications

  • Recent graduate or early-career professional with a degree in communications, marketing, public relations, urban studies, environmental studies, English, liberal arts, or related studies
  • Interest in sustainability marketing and communications
  • Excellent written communication skills
  • Capable of meeting tight deadlines on a regular basis, and organizing an editorial calendar
  • Strong editing/interviewing/note-taking skills
  • Expert knowledge of MS Word
  • Extremely well organized
  • Strong research ability
  • Ability to learn new technologies and online platforms for publishing quickly
  • Taste for graphic design

Preferred qualifications

  • Experiencing writing and editing content for a daily online publisher
  • Knowledge of photo editing software
  • Experience with Drupal 7, WordPress, and Vertical Response
  • Experience in developing marketing materials, working with videos, podcasting, blogs, web content management, graphics and email systems
  • Basic knowledge of HTML
  • Proficiency in Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, and/or Mandarin Chinese a plus

Final candidates will be required to take a writing test.

Qualified applicants should apply online at All applications must be submitted online through this career portal in order to be formally considered. 


About WRI

The World Resources Institute is a global research organization that goes beyond research to put ideas into action. We work with governments, companies, and civil society to build solutions to urgent environmental challenges. WRI’s transformative ideas protect the earth and promote development because sustainability is essential to meeting human needs and fulfilling human aspirations in the future.

Established in 1982, WRI is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization respected globally by policymakers, NGOs, and corporate leaders because of the rigorous quality, balance, and independence of its work. With its think-tank roots, WRI values innovative ideas, working collaboratively, and thinking independently. WRI employees see the results of their hard work and have the satisfaction of making a significant difference in the world.

Currently a $50 million organization with an international staff of approximately 350, WRI has offices in the U.S., China, India, Brazil and more, and active projects in more than 50 countries. WRI provides objective information and practical proposals for policy and institutional change that foster environmentally sound, socially equitable development.

Categories: Europe

Three promising pathways to finance sustainable cities

Embarq The City Fix - Wed, 12/10/2014 - 9:32am

Leaders at COP20 can explore a range of sources for financing low-carbon urban development including multilateral investment banks, private investors, and innovative initiatives like the Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions or climate-themed bonds. Photo by Boris G/Flickr.

Sustainable, accessible, thriving cities are within our reach. Investing in solutions like energy and building efficiency, integrated public transit and better land use and transit planning can improve health, quality of life and economic opportunities in cities. In fact, the Better Growth, Better Climate report finds more connected, compact urban development could reduce global infrastructure costs more than $3 trillion over the next 15 years.

However, limited capital investment remains a roadblock to implementing sustainable solutions. That’s why at COP20 in Lima, Peru, world leaders are exploring a range of ways to make climate finance transformational and accelerate progress towards a low-carbon future – and cities are part of the conversation. In Lima, next year at an international climate meeting in Paris, and beyond, leaders can look to three pathways to trigger more sustainable investment through climate finance and make capital more accessible to cities:

1. Help cities access finance to sustainable growth through increased efficiency and coordination

Accessing low-carbon infrastructure funding is a multi-layered challenge. Even so, investing in sustainable development is not only good for the climate globally: it’s also in cities’ self-interest. Connected, compact urban development can help governments serve larger populations using less capital. City leaders can also make urban infrastructure markets more attractive for private investment through an enabling environment using public funds to leverage private resources and prioritize sustainable development.

Measures to shift towards low-carbon urban development should go hand in hand with measures to attract the necessary finance. Improving budgetary control, enhancing creditworthiness, earning revenue through land value capture and municipal bonds, supporting project preparation, and bundling procurement processes for multiple cities can help governments attract the private investment they need to meet their development goals. For example, Mexico has bundled procurement processes to boost energy-efficient residential lighting through a program that makes 45 million compact fluorescent light bulbs available for free to 11 million low-income families.

Local governments should also consider Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs). While the NAMA concept is still relatively new, it creates greater flexibility and makes evaluation methods less rigid by empowering countries to seek funding for voluntary policy and planning activities tailored to their specific sustainable development priorities. For instance, the Center for Clean Air Policy assisted Colombia in a transit-oriented development (TOD) NAMA proposal using climate finance to back a guarantee fund leveraging private investment to reduce emissions from private vehicles by 25%.

2. Shift investment from multilateral development banks and the private sector toward low-carbon urban development

At the Rio+20 climate meeting in 2012, eight of the largest multilateral development banks (MDBs) pledged $175 billion for sustainable transport projects in developing countries over the next decade. Climate-themed bonds also grew 12% to $95 billion in 2013, setting a new mark for issuances and establishing another way to fund sustainable urban development. Still, research from the World Resources Institute (WRI) research shows that over half of all transport investment comes from the private sector, which accounts for as much as $1.2 trillion annually. MDBs and the private sector must continue reforming their investment strategies to support integrated and sustainable urban development like sustainable urban transport, low-carbon buildings, and resilient infrastructure.

3. Set new partnership models across government, civil society, and the private sector to advance sustainable finance

Public-private partnerships can create innovative, mutually beneficial opportunities for sustainable urban development by convening governmental bodies, the private sector, and other actors to find scalable solutions to urban development challenges. The Cities Climate Finance Leadership Alliance, launched at the UN Security General’s Climate Summit in New York City in September, is particularly promising in this regard. The alliance is a global partnership of funding institutions, city leaders, and civil society organizations helping cities in low- and middle-income countries finance sustainable infrastructure through public and private investment.

Sustainable cities create economic, environmental benefits

Investing in business-as-usual infrastructure will only increase economic and social costs in our cities. Traffic congestion, for example, costs 4% of GDP in Cairo, 3.4% in Buenos Aires and 2.6% in Mexico City. In Beijing, the social costs of motorized transport are as high as 15% of GDP, while urban sprawl in America adds $400 billion annually in extra infrastructure, public service and transport costs.

But shifting toward compact urban development and low-carbon urban transport could reverse this trend. For example, in India, Ahmedabad’s population may grow from 5.4 million to 13.2 million by 2041, but sustainable development could make that future Ahmedabad 50% smaller in size with 84% less carbon dioxide emissions and 74% fewer fatalities from traffic accidents.

The journey towards thriving, equitable, and sustainable cities will be long and challenging, but the path forward is clear. Innovative solutions like climate-themed bonds, administrative efficiencies, NAMAs, and the Cities Climate Finance Leadership Alliance can unite public and private entities to help smooth the transition and close the infrastructure gap at the Lima conference, at next year’s climate meetings in Paris, and well into the future.

Categories: Europe

Five new resources for more sustainable Brazilian cities

Embarq The City Fix - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 11:38am

Five new publications from EMBARQ Brasil will help foster people-oriented cities with high quality public transport systems. Photo by Dylan Passmore/Flickr.

In some Brazilian cities, poorly managed urban development has led to “3D” urban form – distant, dispersed, and disconnected. Over the past ten years, demand for urban public transport has decreased by 33% in Brazilian cities while car sales are on the rise. A number of Brazilian cities, however, are transitioning towards sustainable urban development and sustainable mobility. Last week, EMBARQ Brasil released five publications to support this shift and empower cities to move towards a “3C” development model – connected, compact, and coordinated. The publications will help cities create urban mobility plans, foster transit-oriented development (TOD), and improve the quality and safety of public bus systems.

How can cities create urban mobility plans focused on people?

By next year, 3,065 Brazilian municipalities must develop urban mobility plans. EMBARQ Brasil’s publication – Step by Step Guide to Developing an Urban Mobility Plan (O Passo a Passo para a Construção do Plano de Mobilidade) – helps cities formulate mobility plans that fit their local needs. On the same day that it launched the publication, EMBARQ Brasil hosted the “Sustainable Urban Mobility Seminar: Practices and Trends.” At the seminar, Jesse Worker from the World Resources Institute (WRI) emphasized the importance of social participation in urban mobility planning. Governments must utilize new methods of engaging residents to create plans that are inclusive and transparent. São Paulo, for example, is using innovative methods to have residents contribute to urban planning and improve transport services. Through its MobiLab initiative, the city has created a crowdfunding platform to gather input for its master plan, and is opening data and sponsoring ‘hackathons’ to spur development of urban transport solutions.

Transit-oriented development for sustainable urban growth

Urbanization poses a number of challenges for cities, but strategic planning that encourages mixed-use development and access to public transport can foster livable urban communities. That is the focus of TOD Cities – a Development Manual for Transit-Oriented Development (DOTS Cidades – Manual de Desenvolvimento Orientado ao Transporte Sustentável). The publication provides technical guidance around seven key elements of people-oriented cities:

  • Quality public transport: High quality, affordable public transport is essential to connected, livable cities.
  • Non-motorized mobility: Prioritizing active transport creates healthier, happier communities.
  • Transport demand management (TDM): From parking regulations to congestion pricing, transport demand management strategies help orient cities around people, not cars.
  • Mixed use and efficient buildings: By coordinating transport and land-use planning, fostering dense, mixed-use development around transit creates vibrant communities and uses space efficiently.
  • Community spaces and active ground floors: Active, human-scale ground floors and community spaces promote social interaction and create a network of attractive spaces.
  • Public spaces and natural resources: Well-designed public spaces can integrate natural resources and create attractive spaces for community interaction and social life.
  • Community participation: Community engagement promotes a sense of belonging and encourages social interaction.

Improving the quality and safety of public transport

There is a strong demand for improving the quality of public transport in Brazil’s cities, as evidenced by strong protests in the wake of transport fare increases and perceived non-productive investments leading up to the World Cup. EMBARQ Brasil – with financial support from FedEx – developed the QualiÔnibus program to study and improve the quality of public bus systems. The program released three publications last week – Satisfaction Survey (Pesquisa de Satisfação), Day One of Operation (Dia Um de Operação), and Safety First (Segurança em Primeiro Lugar).

Satisfaction Survey investigates the most important factors in determining bus user satisfaction, and creates a standardized questionnaire that allows cities to compare the performance of their bus systems across a range of features. Day One of Operation provides a strategic guide for launching public transport systems successfully. The launch of a bus rapid transit (BRT) system impacts user expectations and has long-term implications on ridership. A lack of planning and communication with the public can create a negative perception of the system. This guide will help cities avoid common mistakes and ensure a smooth and successful system launch. Finally, Safety First creates mechanisms for bus companies to improve road safety management. It details three recommended stages – driver training for defensive driving, the implementation of incentive programs for driver development, and accident monitoring.

This post was adapted from three articles on TheCityFix Brasil by Priscila Kichler Pacheco and Maria Fernanda Cavalcanti.

Categories: Europe

Hundreds of cities poised to replicate Rio’s approach to measuring and reducing emissions

Embarq The City Fix - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 9:18am

Rio de Janeiro is using the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventories (GPC) – the first internationally accepted standard for measuring city-level emissions – to inform actions on climate change. Photo by Gerben van Heijningen/Flickr.

Rio de Janeiro is one of the world’s leading cities injecting sustainability into its planning. In 2011, Mayor Eduardo Paes enacted an ambitious climate change law, setting a goal to avoid 20% of its emissions by 2020, based on 2005 levels. There was only one problem: the city wasn’t sure just how much it was emitting, or where its emissions were coming from.

Rio officials tried taking inventory of its 2005 emissions, but there was no international standard for how to do this at the city level. The result was incomplete and inconsistent with how other cities were calculating their own emissions. So with support from the World Resources Institute (WRI), Rio turned to an early draft of the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventories (GPC). By using the standard, the city figured out that transport and waste were the biggest contributors to its overall emissions – at 39% and 19% respectively, and that targeting emissions reductions in these sectors would help meet its 20% target.

A new standard for measuring and managing city-level emissions

Today, WRI, the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability are launching the final version of the GPC, which was developed over three years, incorporating implementation lessons from cities around the world, including Rio. It’s the first internationally accepted standard for measuring emissions at the city level, and empowers cities to accurately identify where their emissions are coming from, set credible and achievable reduction targets, and consistently track progress.

We can’t win the fight against climate change without cities

When it comes to the battle against climate change, cities are at the frontlines. For one, they’re the largest source of the problem: roughly half the world’s population lives in urban areas, and cities produce 70% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions globally. Already, emerging cities are catching up to developed cities in their emissions. The Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin, for example, have per capita emissions similar to those of large European and North American cities. And the environmental impact of urban areas is poised to grow – cities are expected to gain 1.4 billion people in the next 20 years and attract trillions of dollars’ worth of investments.

Yet cities are also starting to take action. Rio is one of 35 cities that pilot-tested the GPC, and the number of cities currently using it has risen to more than 100. These cities represent about 1.1 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions and are home to more than 170 million people, comparable to Brazil’s entire emissions and population. Leveraging the networks of C40, ICLEI, and the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, the number of cities using the GPC is expected to grow in the coming years.

These commitments amplify those of the Compact of Mayors initiative announced at September’s U.N. Climate Summit, which convenes city leaders to set ambitious emissions reductions goals and publicly disclose their performance using the GPC.

Getting back to Rio…

As for Rio, city leaders haven’t rested since determining the source of the city’s emissions in 2011. Officials launched a climate action plan directly targeting its two main emissions sources. To curb emissions from transport and limit the increased reliance on private cars, the city is expanding its bus rapid transit (BRT) network to include three additional lines by 2016, bringing the total BRT network to 150 kilometers (93 miles). In combination with efforts to improve fuel efficiency and expand the use of biodiesel, these measures are expected to help meet the statewide goal of reducing emissions from transport 30% by 2020. The city has also overhauled its waste management system, including closing one of the world’s largest open-air landfills, the Jardim Gramacho. This act alone is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1,400 tons per year.

The city is making progress, but it still has work to do. Last year, in conjunction with a GPC pilot test, Rio completed its 2012 greenhouse gas inventory. The inventory indicates that the city has avoided 378,000 tons of emissions so far, falling short of its 2012 target of avoiding 929,000 tons. And despite Rio’s expanded use of public transport, car ownership is still on the rise, with 47% of Brazilians believing that owning a car is vital.

Still, armed with an accurate inventory and comparative assessment against its target, the city can now take more ambitious, focused actions to meet its long-term climate goals and set it on the right track for a low-carbon future. As national leaders in Lima debate how to address climate change, they can look to cities like Rio and tools like the GPC for ways to advance the conversation and take action.

Categories: Europe

Friday Fun: These maps help to visualize the world’s urban growth

Embarq The City Fix - Fri, 12/05/2014 - 3:48pm

Want to see what the world will look like in 40 years? These maps will help you comprehend the urban growth that is transforming countries worldwide. Photo by Charlie Ma/Flickr.

We are living in the midst of the urban century. Though it is common knowledge that the world is urbanizing, it can be striking to visualize this growth on a map. This animation from Unicef maps countries’ urban populations from 1950 to 2050, and shows that urbanization is a global phenomenon set to continue for decades:

Graphic by Unicef.

As seen in the animation, a number of African countries will go from less than 25% urban in 1950 to more than 75% urban in 2050. From 2010 to 2050, Nigeria’s urban population will nearly triple from 79 million people to 218 million. But this growth pales in comparison to the transformative urban growth occuring in Asia. As shown by the map below, much of the world’s population is concentrated in Asian countries:

Image by Valerie Pieris.

Asian countries are undergoing a century-long rural to urban migration. Unicef’s animation shows that in 1980, both India and China were less than 25% urban, with 160 and 190 million people living in cities, respectively. By 2050, India and China will both be more than 50% urban with staggering urban populations of 875 million and 1.04 billion, respectively.

Some of this urban growth is concentrated in megacities

According to the United Nations, there were ten megacities with ten million people or more in 1990. Today there are 28, and by 2030, they estimate that there will be 41. This map from Statista shows that the top 15 megacities will absorb a striking number of new residents over the next decade. For example, between 2011 and 2025, Dhaka, Bangladesh is set to grow by eight million people, and New Delhi is expected to add ten million.

Graphic by Statista. Data by UN Population Division, World Economic Forum.

As they grow in population, many of the world’s biggest cities have rapidly growing urban footprints. This visualization of Lagos, Nigeria, for example, shows the city’s geographic expansion, which has accelerated in recent decades:

In some parts of the world, cities’ growing urban footprints and rising populations are creating an urban region of clustered cities – called a megalopolis. For example, in China’s Pearl River Delta, nine cities are becoming a megalopolis that covers 16,000 square miles.

Image by The Telegraph.

In 2012, The Guardian reported that planners will spend £190 billion (US$ 296 billion) until 2018 integrating transport, energy, water, and telecommunications services among the region’s cities. Including the special administrative zones of Hong Kong and Macau, this cluster of urban areas has over 60 million people.

Rapid growth is also happening in smaller cities

The world’s urban growth is not limited to megacities. In countries worldwide, small- to medium-sized cities are also in the midst of rapid expansion, as shown by this chart from the United Nations:

There will be more than twice as many medium-sized cities in 2030 as there were in 1990. Graphic by UN/World Urbanization Prospects.

How can we deal with the world’s urban growth?

Urban growth – particularly in megacities – can create distinct challenges including housing shortages, air pollution, congestion, and more. However, well managed growth can help create sustainable, livable urban communities. A growing consensus is emerging around the science of people-oriented cities that are connected by sustainable transport, compact, and coordinated through effective governance. Ensuring that cities can be equitable, sustainable, and livable will be the defining challenge of the urban century.


Categories: Europe

Unlocking low-carbon growth through energy efficient cities

Embarq The City Fix - Thu, 12/04/2014 - 10:00am

A growing coalition of cities, NGOs, and private companies are advancing building efficiency efforts that save money and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo by Omar Barcena/Flickr.

Urbanization is reshaping the economy, energy systems, and climate of our planet. By 2050, the world’s cities are expected to add 2.5 billion people who will need housing, hospitals, schools, and places to work. Though global greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow, new practices in building energy efficiency and urban design can harness urbanization to address climate challenges while meeting these local needs. The WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities’ new Building Efficiency Initiative is part of a group that wants to make this happen.

How do we link national and international goals on climate to the real urban challenges city leaders face today? Different levels of government have authority over different aspects of building efficiency. Energy efficiency standards for appliances, for example, are generally overseen at the national level, and many national governments also develop energy codes for buildings. Yet those codes may be subsequently adopted at the city or sub-national level, and enforcement generally occurs through local permits. Furthermore, city governments are responsible for procurement policies and decisions regarding public goods such as streetlights. This week in Lima, as nations gather to discuss a broader climate agreement for Paris in 2015, a large contingent of cities is also meeting to share their work and connect local action with the national and international processes defining priority actions, investments, and commitments.

A new partner in this effort is the Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform of the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4All). One of SE4All’s goals is to double the global rate of energy efficiency improvement – producing goods and services in our economies using less electricity or gas. By focusing on “bending the curve” of energy consumption, this efficiency goal applies to all economies, whether developed or developing. Changing the amount of energy used to provide products or services over time means that the entire economy benefits because there is less wasted energy for the same amount of economic activity.

WRI’s Building Efficiency Initiative is helping to lead a coalition of stakeholders and partners to provide cities with technical analysis and support to accelerate the adoption of efficient building technologies, policies, and practices. The Building Efficiency Accelerator is one of the SE4All Accelerators announced at the U.N. Climate Summit in September 2014. WRI will support this innovative public-private platform by working with city leaders as they create ambitious policies and building projects, and help them track their progress.

Four cities pushing forward building efficiency, with more to come

Four cities and a number of businesses and NGOs are already supporting the Buildings Accelerator under SE4All – and more will be announced in Lima. Cities already on board include Milwaukee, United States; Mexico City, Mexico; Toyama, Japan; and Warsaw, Poland. These cities are currently developing their plans to accelerate action on energy efficiency.

Milwaukee’s first step is to address one of the top global barriers facing building owners and cities seeking to improve energy efficiency: financing. Milwaukee has adopted a new financing mechanism called ‘property assessed clean energy finance’ (PACE). PACE allows building owners to receive low cost funding for efficient equipment and upgrades to their buildings and pay back the investment over time through an incremental charge on their property tax bill. This innovative approach is being tested in over two-dozen U.S. cities and helps building owners who would like to make upgrades but are unsure whether they will own the building over many years. It also helps overcome the challenges that landlords have if they make improvements but the energy savings are only benefiting the tenant: property taxes may be distributed to the tenants – who also enjoy the lower utility bills.

Shifting investment to support accelerated energy efficiency provides economic benefits for the city in terms of better performing infrastructure, technology improvements, and lower water, energy use, and waste. But changing business-as-usual construction and technologies requires a collaborative approach. In addition to the four cities listed above, a number of private sector actors and NGOs are already supporting the Buildings Accelerator under SE4All. Private companies such as Philips, Danfoss, Alstom, Johnson Controls and others are joining forces with NGOs such as the United Nations Foundation, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, and WRI. These cities and organizations are joined by financial institutions such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the World Bank, which are already providing financial support to accelerate the lighting and appliances upgrades. Even more partners will be announced this week in Lima.

Building efficiency a win-win solution for low-carbon development

Whether through building code enforcement, local financing, renovation targets, green schools programs, or utility incentives, cities have a number of project and policy pathways to act on building efficiency. With strong leadership and a network of public and private partners, national climate negotiators at COP20 should feel good about taking bold action: building efficiency improvements provide a low-cost, low-carbon urban development pathway.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that $1 spent on energy efficiency in electrical equipment, appliances, and buildings, avoids more than $2 in energy supply investments. These real economic benefits can be reinvested in the low-carbon and climate resilience investments needed in water infrastructure, waste management, and sustainable urban transit sectors, as well as in more sustainable buildings.

Categories: Europe

Calling young innovators: Apply for the 2015 Lee Schipper Memorial Scholarship!

Embarq The City Fix - Thu, 12/04/2014 - 8:00am

The Lee Schipper Memorial Scholarship for Sustainable Transport and Energy Efficiency is awarded annually to up to two extraordinary candidates to honor the legacy of Dr. Leon J. Schipper, pictured above, co-founder of EMBARQ. Photo by EMBARQ.

Looking for an opportunity to catalyze sustainable, people-centered urban mobility? The Lee Schipper Memorial Scholarship wants to help you transform ideas into reality. The Schipper family and EMBARQ, the sustainable transport arm of the World Resources Institute’s WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, are pleased to announce that applications are now open for the 2015 Lee Schipper Memorial Scholarship for Sustainable Transport and Energy Efficiency. Provided jointly by the Schipper Family and WRI, the Scholarship will award two extraordinary candidates up to US$ 10,000 each to advance transformative research in efficient and sustainable transport. Dr. Leon J. Schipper (“Lee” or “Mr. Meter”) was a co-founder of EMBARQ who dedicated his professional life to the efficient use of energy in mobility. An international physicist, researcher, and studied musician, Lee was a giant in the energy efficiency field. This scholarship celebrates his vision and the bold challenges to conventional wisdom he gave to the field. Inaugural scholars Sudhir Gota and Fei Li contributed research on diesel consumption in India and parking policies respectively, culminating in presentations at the Transforming Transportation 2014 conference. 2014 scholars Erik Vergel-Tovar and Madeline Brozen will present on the relationship between bus rapid transit (BRT) and the built environment and sustainable street design at the upcoming Transforming Transportation conference in January 2015.

About the Scholarship

The Scholarship is aimed at expanding the contributions to research and policy dialogue in the field of sustainable transport and energy efficiency, with a special emphasis on “iconoclastic” contributions that have clear, transformative outputs and contribute to measurable changes. Proposals are welcome from across the different stages that nurture policy dialogue, including: data collection and data quality, diagnosis through data analysis (qualitative and quantitative), policy analysis and evaluation, and interdisciplinary and international comparative analysis.

Who’s eligible?

There are no geographic restrictions on applications for the Scholarship, so young researchers and students of all national origins and fields are eligible to apply. However, applications should be submitted in English – work may be done in other languages as needed to enhance its impact. The scholarship defines a young researcher as someone who has five or fewer years of experience since his or her last academic degree (Masters or PhD), and is not older than 35 years at the time of submission of the expression of interest (born on or after January 10, 1980). Applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Consistency with Lee Schipper’s contributions
  • Alignment with the idea of sustainable transport and energy efficiency
  • Creation of innovative, transformational outcomes (“real impact”)
  • Feasibility (timely, realistic)
  • Applicant (affiliation, background, previous contributions, references)
How to apply (today!)

The first selection phase requires an expression of interest, to be completed by January 10, 2015. Interested applicants can learn more about this process in the Scholarship guidelines and start their applications here. From this first phase, up to ten candidates will advance to the next selection round and will be notified by February 20, 2015 when a more detailed research proposal will be required. Final awardees will be notified in June 2015.

Comments? Questions? Contact

Categories: Europe

Three climate adaptation lessons from Brazil’s cities

Embarq The City Fix - Wed, 12/03/2014 - 4:07pm

As the impacts of climate change intensify, cities can learn from best practices to become more resilient to climate impacts. Photo by Fede Cabrera/Flickr.

Brazil’s cities, home to 85% of the country’s population, are already feeling the effects of climate change. Intense rains and floods in Rio de Janeiro are causing fatal landslides with high social and infrastructure costs. Temperatures are climbing to record-breaking highs in Porto Alegre, and cities in the Southeast are facing one of the country’s worst droughts in history. In total, 463 of Brazil’s cities – including 11 state capitals – lie in coastal areas threatened from rising sea levels, posing serious risks to more than 50 million people, or roughly 26% of Brazil’s total population.

But as experts from the World Resources Institute (WRI) recently learned, some cities are also starting to take action to adapt. As part of a new stream of work under the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, a team visited three Brazilian state capitals: Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre and Brasília. These cities are already exploring how they can build communities that are resilient to flooding, drought, and other climate impacts. Discussions with officials underscored three adaptation policy and planning needs in Brazil: mobilizing networks and resources, leveraging governance and people, and harnessing data and tools.

1) Leveraging networks and resources

Policy makers, planners and city officials in Brazil are keen on building capacity by working together, rather than working in isolation. This collaboration stretches even beyond national borders. For example:

  • As chair of the C40 network, Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes aims to share successful urban policies – such as implementing bus rapid transit (BRT) routes – and replicate these initiatives across C40 member cities around the world.
  • Porto Alegre and Rio de Janeiro are working with the Rockefeller 100 Resilient Cities network to develop resilience plans. The network, which helps cities become more resilient to physical, social and economic challenges, helps integrate adaptation across municipal policies and departments.
  • In Brasília, policy makers are interested in learning about adaptation planning in other countries such as India, Mexico and the United States. Karen Cope, Director for Climate Change and Environmental Quality at Brazil’s Ministry of Environment, had just returned from the UNFCCC National Adaptation Plan Forum, where she exchanged resiliency lessons with other planners.
2) Governance and people

According to officials in all three cities, adaptation is not simply a technical matter: governance and people play key roles in bringing initiatives and policies to life.

Historically, poor urban planning and governance have often led to outcomes that hurt communities rather than help. Cities are now working to create new governance structures to help them better respond to disasters and minimize citizens’ vulnerability to climate change.

For example, the city of Rio de Janeiro established the Centre for Operations (COR) in December 2010 in response to fatal landslides. The center operates on a 24-hour basis, monitoring indicators such as rainfall, fire hazards, and temperature. COR’s governance model is innovative, integrating 30 agencies (municipal, state and utilities) to create multi-disciplinary decision-making. The Centre actively engages communities through training and proactively communicates with citizens: it provides alerts through news and social media channels and crowd-sources data from citizens through the city’s mobile app, Olhos da Cidade (City Watch).

These measures have enabled the city to accelerate and improve the effectiveness of its disaster response, and the city government is now looking to develop more long-term resiliency plans. Pedro Junqueira, COR’s Chief Executive, explained, “Above and beyond technology, having the right people sit at the same table and share knowledge, information and experience, has helped us to vastly improve the effectiveness of our disaster response rate.”

3) Data and tools

City officials are harnessing data and technology to improve decision-making, particularly within the context of uncertainty regarding future climate impacts.

The city of Rio de Janeiro works with a range of data and tools to decrease response time to natural disasters. It’s installed an early warning system of pluviometers to measure rainfall, alerting city officials once rainfall reaches 40 millimeters and warning citizens of potential floods through siren calls and mobile phone texts. City officials have also mapped vulnerable citizens by type of disability and residence so emergency responders can reach them quickly. Due to this sophisticated data and planning system, the city hasn’t seen any natural disaster-related deaths since 2010.

City-level technological solutions like Rio’s pluviometers are also garnering support at the national level. CEMADEN, the national Center for Disaster Monitoring and Alert, is now piloting Pluviometers in the CommunityThe project will install semi-automatic pluviometers to be managed by local citizens in nearly 800 communities throughout Brazil. Data will be collected to create online, open-data national monitoring maps.

Scaling up effective adaptation

Of course, these are just a few lessons from a few Brazilian cities. There’s still a lot more work to be done to make Brazil’s urban areas truly climate-resilient, and cities still have more to do to engage all the relevant adaptation stakeholders, from NGOs to citizens to academics and business people.

Adapting to the impacts of climate change will ultimately require action at the local, national, and even international levels. But by learning from cities’ successes, we can work toward building climate-resilient communities around the world.

This post originally appeared on WRI Insights.

Categories: Europe

Low-carbon urban transport boosts social and economic development

Embarq The City Fix - Wed, 12/03/2014 - 1:30pm

As national leaders prepare plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions at COP20, they can look to sustainable transport for win-win solutions that curb emissions while generating jobs, boosting economic growth, and improving public health. Photo by Associacao Ciclocidade/Flickr.

This week in Lima, Peru, national-level decision makers, mayors, business leaders, international finance institutions, and civil society actors come together for the COP20 climate negotiations, and the world is expecting progress towards an international climate agreement expected to be reached at COP21 in Paris in December 2015. Urban transport plays a crucial role in this transformation, helping cities become major players in the global fight against climate change. As the 2014 Better Growth, Better Climate report shows, the urban population will increase by at least 2.5 billion people by 2050, and while emissions from industry are decreasing, those related to transport are expected to rise more than 50% by 2030. About 80% of this growth will occur in developing countries where rapid urbanization, emerging middle classes, and increases in private vehicle ownership are persistent trends. That’s why the question of how cities can grow through sustainable, low-carbon pathways is important in Lima.

But it’s not an entirely uphill battle. Examples from cities around the world show that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is not an additional burden on city leaders, but actually helps them shape more socially inclusive, economically attractive, safer cities. Urban transport is a great example: low-carbon transport solutions in cities go hand-in-hand with new jobs, cost savings, cleaner air, safer roads, and poverty mitigation.

Low-carbon transport stimulates job growth

Investments in low-carbon solutions that increase the use of public transport, bicycling, and walking – while complementing connected, compact cities – contribute to a climate- and worker-friendly job market. For instance, a study from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) shows that each $1 billion in annual spending on public transport in the United States supported an average of 36,000 jobs and prevented the emission of 80,000 tons of carbon dioxide. When also considering additional economic output, those jobs boost GDP by approximately $1.8 billion, including $1.6 billion in income and $490 million in tax revenue. By contrast, an equivalent investment in U.S. highway construction generates only 13,000 jobs on average and increases carbon dioxide emissions by 2.33 million tons per year over the usual 50-year lifetime of the highway.

Similar investments in developing cities could help tap the great potential workforce in emerging economies, where an average rate of 30% of combined unemployment and underemployment leaves one-fifth of the population below the line of extreme poverty, earning less than $1.25 a day.

Low-carbon transport improves health and the economy

Bogotá, Colombia – a sustainable transport pioneer – is an example of the economic benefits generated by investing in low-carbon transport. Its popular bus rapid transit (BRT) system, the TransMilenio, saves almost 250,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year while directly employing 40,000 people and indirectly supporting an additional 56,000 jobs. Furthermore, TransMilenio phases II through IV were projected to reduce emissions by around 7,000 tons of particulate matter – the main culprit behind air pollution and respiratory health problems – more than 50,000 tons of nitrus oxide, and more than 800 tons of sulfur dioxide by reducing fossil fuel consumption in the city’s public transport system.

Air pollution not only diminishes quality of life in cities, but also compromises urban economies with the increased burden on health care systems. According to one recent study, the risk of hospital readmission for children with asthma was 21% higher than normal for those with high exposure to traffic-related air pollution. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) states that solutions in the transport sector offer the largest potential for avoiding premature deaths related to outdoor air pollution.

Particulate matter emissions in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal have more than quadrupled since 1989, mainly due to rapid private motorization. A new policy that encourages public transport and puts vehicle emission standards in place is expected to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20% and reduce particulate matter emissions by 47% by 2025, compared to business as usual. Reducing particulate matter concentration in the valley to a level that meets international health standards could decrease acute childhood bronchitis by 135,475 cases and avoid half a million asthma attacks per year. Those health improvements would boost the quality of life and save Nepal about $21 million annually.

Low-carbon transport a win-win solution for cities and the climate

The challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in urban areas is not a competing goal to cities’ development. By making low-carbon solutions in the transport sector a high priority, cities can become economically attractive, socially inclusive, healthy homes for billions of urban dwellers worldwide.

This is a particularly important message for COP20, where national leaders are in the process of designing their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to be presented in March 2015. What they’re looking for are win-win solutions: measures that advance local and national social and economic development goals while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Transport provides a clear opportunity for both, something leaders should keep in mind in Lima.

Categories: Europe

In photos: Mumbai celebrates four weeks of Equal Streets

Embarq The City Fix - Tue, 12/02/2014 - 2:54pm

Now in its fourth week, Mumbai’s Equal Streets movement has given citizens the opportunity to reclaim their streets as public spaces for people. Photo by Mansi Jain/Facebook.

Linking Road is known as one of Mumbai’s busiest streets. On any given day, it is choked with cars, taxis, buses, and rickshaws from every possible direction. In addition, noise pollution emanating from motorized vehicles has made the environment increasingly stressful. Suffocated with this congestion and pollution, Mumbai has been gasping for a breath of fresh air. It has become a rare sight to see a child cycling to school, even though this was a popular mode of transport for many children less than two decades ago.

For the past four Sundays, however, it has been absolutely refreshing to watch Mumbaikars reclaim their streets.

It is a delight to see the city’s children have the opportunity to actively enjoy open streets every Sunday, away from their indoor video games. Photo By Priyanka Vasudevan/EMBARQ India.

Since Equal Streets was launched in Mumbai on Sunday, November 9, 2014, nearly 40,000 Mumbaikars have joined in the celebration of open streets.

The number of cyclists is increasing every Sunday, bringing Mumbai a step closer to the initiative’s larger objective of creating streets for people, not cars. Photo by Sachi Aggarwal/EMBARQ India.

The level of excitement at Reebok’s Zumba stage is palpable every Sunday. Photo by Sachi Aggarwal/EMBARQ India.

Equal Streets – A Citizens’ Movement has changed the thinking of thousands of people, and it is only the beginning.

The Morning Drum Circle at Equal Streets highlights the new ways people are using public spaces when cars are not present. Photo by Pooja Sharma/Facebook.

Every Sunday morning, the streets are filled with residents – cycling, performing yoga, dancing, playing football or cricket, rollerblading, or even enjoying Carrom – a local board game.

People practice yoga on the usually chaotic and congested Linking Road at Equal Streets in Mumbai. Photo by Zubin Gheesta/Facebook.

A flash mob partakes in a beautiful fusion of Bollywood and the Indian folk dance Kathak on the inaugural day of Equal Streets. Photo by Priyanka Vasudevan/EMBARQ India.

Kids and adults enjoy a comfortable round of board games right in the middle of the street. Photo by Priyanka Vasudevan/EMBARQ India.

In the coming weeks, Equal Streets is working towards launching campaigns around urban tree cover, climate change, and other environmental issues, hoping to make this initiative an even stronger community movement.

See more pictures from Mumbai’s Equal Streets events below, and on Facebook, and keep up with the events on Twitter.

A street performer attracts a crowd of people during her hula-hoop act. Photo by Anil Patel/Facebook.

People of all age groups take advantage of Equal Streets. Photo by Priyanka Vasudevan/EMBARQ India.

Categories: Europe