Rio de Janeiro to fight greenhouse gas emissions
June 18, 2012
Tourists and ‘cariocas’ cycling around Rio on their fancy rental bikes may not appear to be contributing to environmental change, but this simple sightseeing tour has a huge impact on the cityscape they're enjoying.
Rio's re-forested green areas and widespread use of bikes, is helping to build a future of strong and sustainable development for the city, a fitting outcome as it gears up to Rio+20 this week.
Their potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and generate carbon credits that allow for greater investments in infrastructure is about to be measured by a ground-breaking program launched today by the World Bank and the City of Rio de Janeiro.
The Rio de Janeiro Low Carbon City Development Program will monitor and account for climate change mitigation actions across various municipal areas.
Certified to ISO standards the Program initially includes two initiatives: the urban reforestation and maintenance program, already underway, and the local bicycling system featuring a new bike rental project, called Bike Rio, and the expansion of bicycle paths.
Going forward, the data collection and analysis works will be applied to other local initiatives such as bus rapid transit systems, water and sanitation services expansion, recycling policies, and energy efficiency in buildings.
“The Low Carbon City Development Program is a first and important step towards a holistic view of the broader sustainability agenda of the city of Rio. It helps to distill the carbon component out of the municipal investments that will be carried out over the next years,” states Sebastian Scholz, an environment economist and World Bank expert.
Cities must deliver quality of life for its inhabitants, and the power to promote green growth is in the hands of local people and authorities.
The Rio Low Carbon City Development Program was jointly developed by the City Government of Rio de Janeiro and the World Bank, with the financial support of the World Bank Institute’s Climate Change Practice Group through its Carbon Finance-Assist Program.
The program’s benefits are not only local. It can set good practices that can inspire cities around the globe to create their own systems, says Rodrigo Rosa, special advisor to the City mayor, Eduardo Paes. “It's an idea without copyright,” he added.
Rosa thinks that no program is 100% climate-proof. “Where there is human activity there is carbon emission, so it is impossible to mitigate it. The program evaluates the impact of these interventions on the environment, and will further allow for a dramatic reduction,” notes Rosa. Cities throughout the world account for 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Through the program launched today, Rio de Janeiro aims at reducing 16% of its carbon emissions by 2016 (in comparison with 2005 figures) and by 20% in 2020. If the goals are accomplished, eight years from now the city will have secured 2.3 million metric tons worth of emission reductions.
The potential to generate emission reductions is even greater, and each additional metric ton corresponds to a carbon credit that may be used to offset the massive events taking place in town in the coming years – the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics – or negotiated in the global carbon market.
Less carbon, more revenue
If marketed, the carbon credits can generate revenue for Rio de Janeiro, which comes in handy at a time Rio de Janeiro is investing heavily in infrastructure for both the upcoming sports events and general use.
“Cities must deliver quality of life for its inhabitants, and the power to promote green growth is in the hands of local people and authorities,” states Rosa. “Brazil lives a moment of opportunities for economic growth, and Rio de Janeiro, as the host city for Rio+20, has a leadership role in creating sustainability policies.”
Rio is already on a green development path. In early 2011, the city passed a climate change law, as well as a GHG emissions inventory that will now be periodically updated to keep track of the overall city emissions.
By adding this new project to an already green agenda, Rio de Janeiro lovers – whether they’re cariocas or not – will soon start feeling in full the benefits of a healthy and sustainable city.
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