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In the future, the majority of the world’s population will live in the cities. Cities will be the main areas in which our human activities occur – living, eating, working, traveling. Those activities use energy and create heat, waste, and carbon footprint. Many cities try to develop low carbon city plans due to this issue, including some cities in the UK such as London, Birmingham, Bristol, Nottingham, etc. Or some countries even prepare to build a city that does not emit carbon, such as the Masdar city and Dongtan.

The first key principle to be a successful low carbon city is :

Big Data

Today, we do not have accurate and efficient carbon footprint data to make data in the assessment to set strategies for managing emissions in the city. The best way to collect the data right now is to collect from smartphones,and various sensors in the city to track transportation information, energy consumption, water and waste management. I could say that good data acquisition and processing leads to efficient use of resources. For example, knowing where an area needs how much resources At the same time, it is a measure to assess and see a more comprehensive picture of the city.


High rise building is a factor that causes urban heat. The new trend development from them is green buildings, urban layouts, considering the wind and sunlight to reduce energy use in the building. Urban farming is an alternative way to adapt to the building. There is research found that changing the empty space in the city to be agriculture, it can reduce 1% of emissions. Moreover, agriculture is another use of renewable resources since food production itself, transport reduction, and recycling biowaste.


Of course! promoting public transportation is the development that all cities need. Another option is electric vehicles but not every city can achieve it, since it needs a lot of investment and infrastructures to support it. Nevertheless, I agree that this aspect needs cooperation between government, people, and private sectors to make the development efficient.

Circular Economy

An important aspect of the low carbon city is new ways of thinking about the economy and production. The circular economy is not just about recycling, but It is a change in the way we think that looking at everything, including outputs, such as pollution, and waste. To various by-products, it is a part of resource that can be recycled as part of new production.

I think the simple principle of a low carbon city is to be a “good city”. It is a city that uses energy efficiently, the effective use and management in everything from the use of land, buildings, traffic to efficient waste management. The more cities and people have the potential, we will release and control the amount of carbon footprint much better.


TEN KEY PRINCIPLES OF LOW CARBON URBANIZATION. (2015). [pdf] Available at: [Accessed 1 Apr. 2020].

Bühner, M., 2011. Carbon Neutral Cities – Where? When? How? – Ipoint Blog. [online] iPoint Blog. Available at: <> [Accessed 1 April 2020].

Borunda, A., 2019. This Is What Cities Need To Do By 2050 To Meet Climate Goals. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 1 April 2020].

Matthews, K., 2018. Reducing Cities’ Carbon Footprints. [online] Planetizen – Urban Planning News, Jobs, and Education. Available at: <> [Accessed 1 April 2020].

Milligan, R., 2019. The UK’S Cities Are Leading The Charge To Reduce Carbon Emissions. [online] Energy Saving Trust. Available at: <> [Accessed 1 April 2020].

The Peninsula Qatar. 2019. Adopting A Circular Economy Could Save Billions: Report. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 2 April 2020].

3 responses to “The principles for Low Carbon Cities”

  1. Thanks for your great information with carbon neutral city. I see the problem of carbon emits by the city comes from various sources according statistic from European Union The biggest emitters of carbon is from industry and energy production with fuel combustion and transportation (,2019).

    I want to highlight how the city producing carbon and what I think is bigger city and more advanced city create more carbon than smaller city. This because of energy consumption and huge amount of transportation. Traveling also big contributor for carbon emissions. (Timperley,2020). Few solutions to reduce carbon emission to create more sustainable cities.

    Traveling inside of the city or outside the city contribute huge amount of carbon dioxide to the air. For moving around the city we should promote public transport in massive ways and to introduced electric based public transport can greatly reduce the emission. Like in Italy, the bus system already using electric line system that in line with tram system (UTM,2019)

    Aeroplane also contribute in carbon emission. Major cities with high economic source makes traveling essential to business. To reduce carbon emission, we can start to travel less or to find alternates way to travel that not produce carbon emission as high as aeroplane. View solutions are using digital technology conference to reduce travel meeting. Or using long distance cleaner transportation such as Hyperloop that on going in development (Intelligent transport,2019).


    Greenhouse gas emission statistics, 2019 Available online, Accessed 21 May 2020

    Intelligent Transport, 2018, How will Hyperloop systems affect society and transport? Available online, Accessed 21 May 2020

    Timperley J. 2020, How our daily travel harms the planet , Available online, Accessed 21 May 2020

    Urban transport Magazine, 2019 New trolleybuses and new ebuses for Milan , Available online, Accessed 21 May 2020

  2. Thank you for sharing this informative topic, Mark! Carbon, and generally environmental emissions have negatively affected numerous countries’ urban lifestyle and deteriorated urban health. One of the topics I am currently interested in is a sustainable urban environment in Eastern Asia, particularly in China. Given that the country has demonstrated a rapid increase in urban pollution, according to Liu (2016, p. 5), the establishment of low carbon developments has been widely speculated. One of the most intriguing projects I happened to encounter represents the pilot International Low Carbon City (ILCC) initiative in Longgang District in Shenzhen (Zhan and de Jong, 2018, pp. 118-119). This project aims to transform its industrial past into an unpolluted revitalized eco-environment, thus introducing the first international model of low carbon city to the world (C40, 2017). Working in close quarters with Dutch organizations such as AEB Amsterdam, Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research and Delft University of Technology, ILCC is oriented to exercise the same principles that were discussed in your post (Cheshmehzangi et al., 2018, pp. 71-73). However, it should be also noted that the project’s financial management and deliverability represents an important factor in further progression of the scheme. Moreover, de Jong et al. (2013) argue that due to constant changes of international investors, land values and technological innovations, the projects could suffer from a lack of believability from the national government. Although, ILCC has managed to develop a suitable sustainable finance scheme, the new models for financial investments should also be carried out (Zhan and de Jong, 2018, p. 124).

    Reference List:

    C40 (2017) Urban Efficiency II: Shenzhen – International Low Carbon City. Available at: (Accessed: 25 May 2020).

    Cheshmehzangi, A., Xie, L. and Tan-Mullins, M. (2018) ‘The role of international actors in low-carbon transitions of Shenzhen’s International Low Carbon City in China’, Cities, 74, pp. 64-74.

    de Jong, M., Wang, D. and Yu, C. (2013) ‘Exploring the Relevance of the Eco-City Concept in China: The Case of Shenzhen Sino-Dutch Low Carbon City’, Journal of Urban Technology: Eco-Cities in Pan-Asia: International Discourses, Local Practices, 20(1), pp. 95-113.

    Liu, Z. (2016) Carbon emissions in China. Switzerland: Springer, pp. 1-10.

    Zhan, C. and de Jong, M. (2018) ‘Financing eco cities and low carbon cities: The case of Shenzhen International Low Carbon City’, Journal of Cleaner Production, 180, pp. 116-125.

  3. Thanks for this, Mark! With the UK making the top 20 global highest emitters of CO2 [1], it is clear that action should be taken to address the issue of our carbon footprint. It is quite promising to see action being taken by cities such as Nottingham, making the commitment to become the “first carbon neutral city in the country” by 2028 [2]. The council have implemented an action plan [3] which sets out key factors in delivering this goal – which address many of the principles you have listed.

    ‘1. Transport’ will reduce the need for travel within the city whilst including the addition of more sustainable modes of transport, including the ‘Go Ultra Low’ scheme for electric vehicle charging [3].

    ‘2. The built environment’ will reduce electricity and gas consumption by improving and monitoring energy efficiency in buildings, as well as introducing new technology and materials to minimise construction emissions for new builds [3].

    ‘3. Energy generation’ will test for and generate more low carbon energy systems within homes and businesses [3].

    ‘4. Waste and water’ will improve waste systems and water management to reduce the impact of waste through regulation and policy [3].

    Finally, ‘5. Consumption’ will change patterns of consumption by “decarbonising” the city including a sustainable food strategy [3].

    So far, Nottingham has been able to reduce city-wide CO2 emissions by over 41% [2] and is on track to meet its target of 20% low carbon energy sources by this year [4].

    Hopefully with the growing awareness of the impacts of CO2 emissions on climate change, more cities can implement these principles for a cleaner future!


    [1] Union of Concerned Scientists (2019) Each Country’s Share of CO2 Emissions, Available at: [Accessed on 11/04/20].

    [2] Nottingham City Council (n.d.) Nottingham 2028, Available at: [Accessed on 11/04/20].

    [3] Nottingham City Council (n.d.) Carbon Neutral Nottingham: 2020-2028 Draft Plan.

    [4] Public Sector Executive (2019) Nottingham council unveils 2028 target to become UK’s first carbon neutral city, Available at: [Accessed on 11/04/20].

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