On the occasion of World Habitat Day, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for making cities more environmentally friendly. He said that there are "enormous" benefits of taking the approach, which include reduced climate risk, more jobs, and better health and well-being.
"City leadership in using green materials and constructing energy-efficient, resilient buildings powered by renewable energy, is essential to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050," said Antonio Guterres in his message for World Habitat Day, marked on Monday.
The theme for this year's celebration of cities and towns worldwide is "Accelerating urban action for a carbon-free world."
According to UN News, cities are responsible for about 75 per cent of the world's energy consumption and over 70 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Urban areas across the globe are facing the dual crises of COVID-19 and climate change said the UN chief.
The publication said that 4.5 billion people live in cities today, but that population is projected to grow by almost 50 per cent, by 2050. By mid-century, over 1.6 billion urban residents may have to survive through average summertime highs of 35 degrees Celsius, the report added.
According to Guterres, cities and towns are at the core of climate action to keep the 1.5 degrees goal within reach.
"Three-quarters of the infrastructure that will exist in 2050 has yet to be built," UN chief said. "Economic recovery plans offer a generational opportunity to put climate action, renewable energy, and sustainable development at the heart of cities' strategies and policies."
Amid the growing population in emerging economies, demand for transport, which accounts for nearly 20 per cent of global carbon emissions, is also multiplying. In this context, the UN Chief said cities are already working on this, trying to ensure that this demand is met by zero-emission vehicles and public transit.
Guterres concluded by asking for a global moratorium on internal combustion engines to underpin these efforts, saying it should happen by 2040 at the latest.