East Asian cities move ahead with climate action

East Asian cities are developing rapidly. With over half of the global population living in cities and increased urbanization, around seventy percent of worldwide energy-related emissions come from cities.  However, cities the world over are also working at the local level to tackle climate change and provide sustainable futures for their residents. On 10 November at the Cities & Regions Pavilion at COP23, East Asian cities came together to showcase their work, sharing strategies and solutions to increase resilience and sustainable low carbon development. Here are three examples of what East Asian cities are doing:

The City of Shenzhen, China is focusing on the transport sector to help lower emissions.  Shenzhen is promoting the use of e-vehicles across the city, beginning with public transportation. The city has set the goal that 100 percent of city buses will be electric by 2017 and 100 percent of taxis will be electric by 2020.  Beginning in 2012, only electric vehicles have been purchased for public use by the city. Shenzhen is also incentivizing e-vehicles for private residents. For example, in some areas, free parking is made available for e-vehicles only.

Toyama, Japan is pursuing a compact city policy to reduce energy consumption and preserve the rich natural resources surrounding the city. They are promoting a compact city model by revitalizing public transport, encouraging residents to live close to these transport lines and revitalizing the city center. By maintaining a compact city, transport and emissions are reduced while land which is home to rich forest and water resources is maintained as green space that supports city resilience.

Toyama is also sharing solutions with partner cities and engaging in joint projects to transfer technologies to developing countries. The city implemented a micro hydro-electric power system at city hall to reduce need for fossil fuel energy and has begun a project to implement a micro hydro-electric plant in Tabanan, Indonesia. The project initiated in March 2014 and this month, the electricity service will be available for residents.

New Taipai City is following several strategies to achieve a low carbon sustainability both through municipal decisions and making sustainable options more attractive for their residents. All of the traffic lights and overhead street lighting has been replaced with LED lamps in order to reduce municipal energy consumption. Plastic bags have been banned from supermarkets and recycling has increased.  The city is also offering rooftop gardens for residents to use as an effort to raise awareness of sustainability and as a space for families to spend time together.  They are also incentivizing public transport, offering a public bike system that is free for 30 minutes and increasing accessibility to bus and tram options.  They are also bringing sustainability principles into education at the elementary school level, acknowledging that change starts with children in the classroom.

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