Alternative Urban Energies
It has been acknowledged worldwide that there is no single solution to reducing the negative effects of anthropogenic sources of global warming (UNON 2004). Decreasing global dependence on fossil fuels to generate electricity and produce carbon-based fuels can be realized through a multitude of techniques, including biofuels, solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, geothermal, and hydrogen power.
At the epicenter of realizing these alternative energies is planning to implement, expand, overcome limitations and adapt to using these substitutive sources in urban and rural settings.
Energy-conscious departments and institutions often provide resources to individuals to reduce their daily energy consumption, techniques to lessen the burden on power utilities and ways to invest in energy-efficient solutions at home, at the workplace and on the road. This information is typically invaluable for individuals not only to decrease their own carbon footprint but also to save on energy expenditure. This chapter acknowledges that these techniques are crucial for educating urban and rural inhabitants on reducing their energy dependence; however, it focuses on how effective urban planning and infrastructure development contribute to a large-scale reduction in emission of GHG in urban settlements. Countries with extremely high air pollution from a combination of transport and industrialization include Pakistan, Qatar, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Egypt, Mongolia, the United Arab Emirates, India and Bahrain (Ryan 2014). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 98% of cities in low- and middle-income countries with more than 100,000 inhabitants do not meet the WHO air quality guidelines; in high-income countries, this percentage decreases to 56%. In China, 4000 people die each day from cardio-pulmonary and neurovascular diseases due to air pollution, particularly small particles of haze (Associated Press 2015). Indirect industrial carbon footprint, the major source of which is consumption of electricity, contributes approximately 87% of the total industrial carbon footprint, while direct industrial carbon footprint contributes the remaining 13% (Yan et al. 2016) according to a study performed on the industrial carbon footprint of Chinese (the largest textile and garment producer and consumer globally) textile fabrics. Much can be learned from the cities having the highest, and lowest, amounts of air pollution, what they are doing to minimize their energy consumption in future and how new developments are planned to be more energy-efficient.
Careful planning and management of future land developments and upgrading existing infrastructure can contribute a significant amount to lowering carbon emissions. An efficient built environment can achieve the goals of low carbon emissions, as expressed in the following section.