Upstream emissions are largest urban emitters

Smart City

Indirect emission during production processes responsible for highest share of GHG emissions. Image source: Shutterstock (#96727615).

A new study by German and American scientists urges cities to reduce their urban GHG footprints. Especially the so-called ‘upstream emissions’ which are generated along the global production chain when building materials, cars and clothing are produced around the world, are generating just as much emissions as the ones generated by cities directly. Along the supply chain, building materials along with their transport are among the largest emitters. On a city level, buildings and transport are just as well the largest sources for GHG emissions and their carbon footprint needs to be lowered, the study found. Researchers also showed that half of Berlin’s upstream emissions are produced outside Germany – largely in Russia, China and elsewhere in the European Union, contributing to housing, transport and food being responsible for more than three-quarters of total upstream emissions in the four studied cities Berlin, Mexico City, Delhi and New York.

While it might be difficult for city authorities to inflict sustainable consumption on residents, building regulations in urban policies could be changed to promote the use of low-carbon materials, while better insulation standards would cut the need for heating and air conditioning.


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