7th Annual Livable Cities Symposium Pushes Cities Toward a Zero-Carbon Future
On November 22, WRI Turkey Sustainable Cities organized the 7th annual Livable Cities Symposium in Istanbul, Turkey. The conference convened 400 representatives from international organizations, local governments, academia, the private sector and NGOs under the theme “Low Carbon is Not Enough! Now it is Time for Zero Carbon!” Speakers discussed the role of cities in tackling the climate crisis and the transition toward zero-carbon cities.
''Globally, we are now face to face with a climate emergency,” said Director of WRI Turkey Sustainable Cities Güneş Cansız, as she kicked off the conference. “If we want to achieve 1.5°C, then we must take net-zero carbon actions to reduce our global CO2 emission before 2050.’’
“According to research,” Cansız continued, “global emissions in cities can be reduced by 90% in 2050 by investing in low-carbon methods. Low-carbon development will provide a net benefit of $24 trillion in cities by 2050. The way to do this is by reducing energy consumption and increasing energy efficiency.’’
The good news is that Turkey is already involved in a number of projects to decrease energy use and move toward a zero-carbon economy. Zero Carbon Buildings for All, launched at the 2019 UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit in New York, unites leaders across sectors in a strong international coalition to decarbonize the building sector and meet climate goals. Another target for zero-carbon cities is to extend Turkeys’ cycling paths – from 1000 kilometers to 4000 kilometers – by 2023. Moreover, with the country’s zero waste project, the recovery rate from waste is projected to increase from 13% to 35% in 2023.
Sergio Avelleda, Urban Mobility Director at WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, emphasized that the future of our planet depends on the decisions that cities make today. He said, ''Being smart and clean is actually a matter of life and death. Eliminating greenhouse gas emissions in cities should be on everyone's agenda. However, urban mobility also needs to be clean, safe and inclusive.”
Orhan Demir, Deputy Secretary-General of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, highlighted Turkey’s role in the zero-carbon push. ‘‘As Turkey's and Europe's most populous city, and with the biggest share in greenhouse gas emissions on a national scale, we started our plans,” he said. “Last month we participated in the C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen and committed to becoming a zero-carbon city in 2050.’’
WRI Turkey Sustainable Cities has been organizing the Livable Cities Symposium every year since 2013. The purpose of this symposium is to share successful projects both within Turkey and around the world, to offer feasible solutions, and to help city administrators develop their projects to achieve livable cities for all.
The 7th Livable Cities Symposium was carried out with the strategic partnership of the Consulate General of Denmark in Istanbul; the Consulate General of the Netherlands in Istanbul; Istanbul Technical University; Istanbul-ON Urban Mobility Lab; Marmara Municipalities Union; the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UNSDSN) Turkey; and SHURA Energy Transition Center.