The world is undergoing the largest wave of urban growth in history, with more people now living in cities than in rural areas. The world’s urban population is expected to rise by 72 per cent by 2050, from 3.6 billion in 2011 to 6.3 billion in 2050. Cities are mostly responsible for a high proportion of global carbon emissions, which are the main drivers of anthropogenic climate change.

Humanity has been facing extraordinary risks and challenges related to climate change, such as extreme weather events, sea level rise, water stress, desertification, biodiversity loss, and conflicts over limited resources. The Kyoto protocol identifies six gases namely, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide, hydroflourocarbons, per fluorocarbons and Sulphur hexafluoride. Cities are contributing over half of the residual greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and billions of tons of solid wastes as well as toxic water pollutants.

Low carbon city is a sustainable urbanization approach that centers on curtailing the anthropogenic carbon footprint of cities by means of minimizing or abolishing the utilization of energy sourced from fossil fuels. It combines the features of low carbon society and low carbon economy while supporting partnerships among governments, private sectors, and civil societies.

Low carbon city can be defined as a city that comprises of societies that consume sustainable green technology, green practices and emit relatively low carbon or GHG as compared with present day practice to avoid the adverse impacts on climate change (KeeTTHA, 2011, p. 11). Low carbon city is a place where people want to live and work, now and in the future. They meet the diverse needs of existing and future residents, are sensitive to their environment and contribute to a high quality of life. They are safe and inclusive, well planned, built and offer equality in opportunity and good urban services for all (Mustafa, 2012, p. 10).

Global Initiatives for Low Carbon Cities:

Globally, initiatives have been taken across the world in Taiwan and Malaysiain the form of an extensive work of assessment and framework is prepared. Even in UK, Leeds region low carbon city Programme has been set up. They have their low carbon city calculators available online and the assessment of carbon emissions is done through them. Berlin, Copenhagen, Barcelona and Hangzhou have established a series of policies of low-carbon city construction regarding energy usage structure, industrial structure, public transportation, building design, household consumption, and public awareness. It is reported that about 1,050 cities in the United States, 40 cities in India, and more than 100 cities in China have established an objective of low-carbon development and made efforts to reduce carbon emissions This indicates that the low-carbon city has become a new goal of urban development.

Measuring Green House Gas Emissions in Urban Areas:

Environmental Protection Administration, Executive Yuan, ROC (Taiwan) has identified certain indices like major indices renewable energy consumption, urban type will be based on

v  Greenhouse Gas emission per Capita (Tonnes/Capita)

    The secondary indices will include the resource recycling rate like

Solid waste recycling rate will be based on the ratio of solid waste recycling to the total solid waste

Waste water recycling rate based on the ratio of wastewater recycling to the total waste water

A low carbon city is made through high self sufficient ratio with raising the ratio of renewable energy and energy conservation. These indices will help local agencies like Municipal Corporation, State Governments and even Planners to calculate GHG emissions.

Parameters for Achieving Low Carbon Cities According to Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation report on the Concept of Low Carbon town, certain indicators have been identified to assess low carbon objectives:

  • Ø  Renewable Energy Energy Conservation- Reduction in CO2 emissions and Renewable energy planning
  • Ø  Low Carbon Buildings- Including foundation conservation, foundation water        conservation, water saving, waste reduction etc.
  • Ø  Green building material
  • Ø  Green Transportation System- Public transport system,  Bicycle (electric bicycle) , Electric scooter etc.
  • Ø  Low Carbon Living- Carbon fixation/sink planting and green roof Low carbon consumption etc.

As India urbanizes at a rapid pace, there’s a daunting challenge in balancing higher energy use and intensity with a development model that is not fossil fuel-intensive and slows the growth of carbon emissions. Besides the mega cities, hundreds of smaller ones are growing exponentially across the country and there is urgent need to increase access to clean, affordable and reliable energy.

Encouraging examples:

In Delhi, there are areas where net metering exists. Homeowners can either own a solar power system or lease their roof to project developers. The electricity generated from such a system meets the rooftop owner’s energy needs, with the excess fed back to the grid.

Also, in Gujarat the government has implemented a rent-a-roof Programme, in which residents rent their rooftops to private solar energy companies that pay them INR 3 (USD 0.05) for every unit of energy produced.

On household energy use, there has been a substantial increase of cooking gas supply in Indian cities. In urban areas of the country, LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) use has been growing at about 10% per year and now about 65% of urban residents use LPG.