UN climate body calls for 'intelligent densification' to help cut carbon emissions

'Intelligent densification' along with 'co-located jobs and homes' could help reduce carbon emissions from urban areas, according to the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Urban flooding: report says planning has key role to mitigate climate change impacts (pic Masked Builder via flickr)
Urban flooding: report says planning has key role to mitigate climate change impacts (pic Masked Builder via flickr)

The IPCC’s fifth Synthesis Report, released yesterday in Copenhagen, provides an overview of current knowledge on climate change, and advises that spatial planning can be a key mitigation approach.

"An integrated response to urbanisation provides substantial opportunities for enhanced resilience, reduced emissions and more sustainable development," according to the report.

"Urban areas account for more than half of global primary energy use and energy-related CO2 emissions and contain a high proportion of the population and economic activities at risk from climate change."

It suggests that increased density, transport-oriented development, "mixed-use zoning", and "co-located jobs and homes" could help reduce energy use, while compact development in urban spaces and "intelligent densification" can preserve land carbon stocks and land for agriculture and bioenergy.

Greening cities and recycling water to reduce energy and water consumption in urban areas, while building resilient infrastructure systems "can reduce vulnerability of urban settlements and cities to coastal flooding, sea-level rise and other climate induced stresses", the report says.

Other measures proposed to address climate change impacts include enforcing building codes and design standards, maintaining green spaces, and managing development in flood-prone and other high-risk areas.

The report also suggests that urban planning and improvements to the built environment could help address heat related mortality.


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