Johannesburg comes in at Number 13. Benha in Egypt is No. 17, Cape Town is at No. 89, while Lagos is No. 386. What they all have in common with 13,000 cities around the globe is that their ranks are part of a new study that looks at the carbon footprints of urban clusters – with an eye toward making changes to mitigate climate change.
Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) say this is the first time anyone has drawn a complete map of potential carbon footprint reductions from cities. The results of their work have just been published in Environmental Research Letters.
“The top 100 highest-footprint cities worldwide drive roughly 20 percent of the global carbon footprint,” said Daniel Moran, the paper’s lead author. “This means concerted action by a small number of local mayors and governments can significantly reduce national total carbon footprints.”
While many of the urban areas with the highest carbon footprints are in affluent countries with high carbon footprints, 41 of the top 200 are in countries where total and per capita emissions are low, such as Senegal and Egypt. In those cities, population and affluence in the urban areas combine to drive footprints at a similar scale as their counterparts in the highest income countries.
Compared to countries, Moran said, cities and local governments are often more nimble and can target the most effective solutions in different districts and demographic segments.
It’s especially intriguing information for cities on the African continent, which are expected to see explosive growth in the coming decades.
A website dedicated to the carbon footprint mapping project and the methodology is available at this link.