Decoupling GDP and GHG Emissions: Urban Mobility and the UN

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Poster

Delinking greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs) from economic growth is instrumental to the sustainable long-term development of individual nations as well as the overall international community.

Fleet electrification and city Smart-ification both constitute vital elements of sustainable growth. UN Habitat’s Urban Electric Mobility Initiative, whose primary goal is for electric vehicles to “[make] up 30% of total urban travel by 2030,” states that these endeavors moreover play key roles in:

  • Limiting the increase in global mean temperature to two degrees Celsius.
  • Reducing local air pollution and improving health.

More broadly, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 11 focuses on making cities “inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”

But is it possible to decouple GDP and GHGEs? The UK is living proof, having grown its GDP from $2.1 trillion to $2.7 trillion from 2000 to 2014 while reducing CO2 emissions by about 20%:

Decoupling UK GDP and CO2 Emissions, 2000-2014

Baltimore, with its ambitious vision and pursuit of a Smart City transformation, can and should play a meaningful role in the international drive toward sustainable urban mobility and decoupling of GDP and GHGEs.

The city has been making some progress. For instance, the upcoming Charm City Bikeshare is set to be “the largest pedelec bike-share system in the Western Hemisphere” – not to mention accessible and inclusive in its pricing and geographical distribution – a great step in the right direction.

But more needs to be done to overcome pressing issues such as Baltimore’s air pollution, which has recently been described as “‘close’ to meeting federal air pollution limits.” The city should more aggressively pursue fleet electrification, green public transit options, and incentives for the purchase and use of electric vehicles.

To help make green urban mobility a priority in Baltimore and Maryland, reach out to: