About this Research Topic
Cities play a key role in the global efforts to mitigate climate change by reducing CO2 emissions. In spite of occupying only 3-5% of the earth’s land surface, cities contribute to more than 70% of CO2 emissions in the world, and their impacts on climate change are expected to become more significant in the next decades due to rapid urbanization. For countries to succeed in meeting the CO2 emission reduction targets established by the Climate agreement signed in Paris (COP21), urban regions will need to take significant steps to transition to low-carbon futures. Such transition will require to deepen our understanding of urban carbon dynamics and device strategies to substantially cut urban carbon emissions worldwide. Scientists have made significant progress in developing innovative approaches and methods. Yet, empirical studies of the underlying processes and mechanisms linking urbanization patterns and carbon emissions are still limited. Assessments of the urban impact on the carbon cycle are based primarily on emissions estimates rather than direct measurement. Current carbon inventory accounting is inadequate to understand the relative contribution of multiple urban activities and household behaviors and their variability across alternative development patterns (i.e. urban form, land use intensity, transportation infrastructure) or predict future trajectories of carbon fluxes under alternative urban development scenarios (e.g., centralized versus sprawling). Novel CO2 monitoring systems need to be deployed to collect emission data at the appropriate space and time scale. CO2 emissions accounting needs to more realistically represent the complexity of urban activities and processes. High spatial and temporal resolution data will be necessary to examine the spatiotemporal variations of carbon emissions across urban alternative development patterns. The emergence of built-up area, big data from cellphone and social networks could help understand human activities and behaviors and their impacts on environment. Building on a new understanding of the mechanisms driving urban CO2 emissions can inform the development of innovative technologies and novel planning strategies towards the development of low-carbon cities. This Research Topic invites contributions that provide new insights into mechanisms driving urban CO2 emissions and the challenges and opportunities for innovative solutions, and policy responses.
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