Climate change - Dissertation Example

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Literature Review: Climate Change and the Sustainability of Urban Communities and Urban Transport 1. Emissions Focus especially on transportation, and its role in urban communities, one fact was clear from across the literature – that global transport emissions are not only huge, but growing fast, and expected to continue in this trend…
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Download file to see previous pages There is some disagreement in the literature about the percentage of emissions caused by each sector. Whitaker (2007, p.62), for example, produces a very conservative estimate for transportation fuels, of just 14% of total emissions. Nevertheless, even Whitaker’s figures make clear that urban communities are producing unsustainable levels in other areas – for example, power stations to supply their energy are held responsible for 21.3% of greenhouse gas output, 10.4% are caused by residential and commercial sectors, and a further 3.4% is caused by waste disposal and treatment. The provision of the latter on a large-scale in only necessitated by the large-scale existence of urban settlement patterns. International trade, travel and a growing dependence on motor vehicles has made transportation one of the major sources of greenhouse gases. The growing numbers of people living in urban communities make a major contribution to this. As well as travelling between cities and within cities, they do not, of course, produce their own food and drink. Therefore, all of the necessities of every day life, and much else besides, has to be imported to the urban environment, at great cost to gas emissions. As was pointed out by several sources, the Kyoto Protocol – the landmark international agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, did not apply to emissions from international trade and transport by air and sea. Furthermore, as urban settlements grow and sprawl into the previously rural hinterlands, the distances which need to be traversed within cities become greater, which leads to increased ownership of cars and motorbikes. In the United States, for example, 92% of households own at least one car, and transport is the second largest contributor to US gas emissions, and, perhaps more worrying, an astonishing 35% of the world’s total (Dow & Downing, 2007, p.46). The United Kingdom has seen similar patterns, with car journeys increasing by 9% between 1997 and 2004, and expected to grow by a further 26% between 2000 and 2010 (Department for Transport, 2005, p.10). Some sources took a more literary approach to the problems of climate change and urban sustainability, such as the use of a quote from Ehrenburg, penned in 1929, presaging the destruction wrought by the motor vehicle: ‘the automobile…can’t be blamed for anything…It only fulfils its destiny: it is destined to wipe out the world’ (1999, p.175). Compared to the alternatives, such as using bicycles, trains and buses, which are relatively energy-efficient, using personal motor cars, especially if they are carrying only one or two people at a time, is damaging. However, the most sustainable type of transport – walking, has become less popular. In the past decade, as Monbiot points out, the number of walking trips in the UK has fallen 20% (2006, p.145). At the same time, air travel is becoming ever more affordable, with passenger miles only expected to increase in the course of the next few decades. Dow and Downing provide a useful digest of figures for transport emissions, and their global distribution, and estimate that from 3.9 billion journey by air in 2004, by 2020 there were will some 7.4 billion (2007, p.46). Each of these journeys is responsible for huge amounts of carbon dioxide emissions, with a round trip between Europe and the US by two people producing the equivalent of at least 40 tonnes of carbon ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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