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London 'more sustainable than other major cities'

London 'more sustainable than other major cities'

London 'more sustainable than other major cities'

Out of almost 30 so-called megacities worldwide, London can pride itself on being the only one in which electricity use is declining against growing gross domestic product (GDP) figures.

This is according to a new study from the University of Toronto, published last week (April 28th), which probed into what it described as the 'metabolism of megacities' - the resources consumed and waste generated per person in the world's biggest urban centres.

A megacity is defined as a metropolitan area with a population of greater than 10 million. Only eight such cities existed in 1970, but the figure has since risen to 27 and is expected to climb by another ten within the next five years.

Megacities are notorious for their disproportionate wealth, resource consumption and waste. According to the University of Toronto researchers, they are currently home to only 6.7 per cent of the world's population, but use almost a tenth (9.3 per cent) of its electricity - and generate 12.6 per cent of its waste.

In most megacities, resource consumption increases in line with GDP. However, the English capital has the distinction of being the only city in the category in which this is not the case. This is partly the result of London's rising electricity costs, the study said, although the UK's mature decarbonisation policies - as well as the capital's waste disposal taxes and public transport infrastructure - can also claim some of the credit.

By comparison, the University of Toronto researchers called New York City an "energy hog", with the average resident using 24 times as much energy and producing 15 times as much solid waste as a person in Kolkata.

Even compared to a megacity of roughly equivalent wealth and climate, the Big Apple came out unfavourably - Tokyo, for example, was found to have a much smaller per-person environmental impact on account of its efficient design and extensive public transport network. The study also hailed the city's water supply, noting that only three per cent of its water is lost through poorly maintained pipes. This figure exceeds 50 per cent in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, among others.

The study concluded that as the trend for humans to settle in massive urban centres continues, resulting in a proliferation in megacities around the world, smart policy decisions "can make a difference".

"What we're talking about are not short-term, one-election issues, but long-term policies on infrastructure that shape cities over years or decades," commented lead researcher and senior fellow at the Global Cities Institute Chris Kennedy.

"The evidence is that megacities can make some progress in reducing overall resource use, and I think that's encouraging."

 

Posted by William Rodriguez