This year’s Climate Week NYC confronted humanity’s largest long-term threat — climate change — from the perspective of the COVID-19 pandemic, the greatest challenge of the current moment. Across every sector, a common theme has emerged: green principles must be placed at the center of recovery efforts to ensure our society and economy are on a truly future-proof path.
As a dense and bustling city, New York is an ideal place to consider what a green recovery might look like. Cities drive the economic engines of society, but that economic activity also acts as one of the largest sources of emissions. According to UN Habitat, cities consume 78 percent of the world’s energy and produce more than 60 percent of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. The UN’s 2018 World Urbanization Prospects report shows that over 55 percent of the global population is urban, a figure set to rise to nearly 70 percent by 2050. Megacities such as Delhi (26 million people), Shanghai (25 million people) or Manila (22 million people) will become more common, and the way these cities develop will determine the long-term trajectory of how the world’s population lives, uses energy and travels.