Densification of Cities or Improved Technology to Curb Greenhouse Gas Emissions?
With the shift from fossil fuels to cleaner transport fuels our perception of the pollution from the sector changes. Greenhouse gas emissions become less important and land use for different transport modes, as well as health related issues, become more important.
This paper studies this shift and discusses and compares the consequences of a technology shift in the transport sector with the shift that is possible by densifying cities and thus reducing the transport volume. While densification is seen by many as a major strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector, studies show that this takes time to achieve and much longer than technology shifts in the transport fleet. This is a result of the fact that buildings have a very long life (for example 40–200 years) and the urban fabric even longer, so shifts take place very slowly, compared to in the transport sector where the average life of vehicles may be as short as 15–20 years.
By locating huge public buildings like offices and hospitals well within the city borders the transportation need is reduced, but this does surprisingly not have a considerable impact on the emissions say by 2050, compared to other alternative measures.
The method applied is international literature and project studies searches to find new research. The paper applies experience-based knowledge of urban design and evidence-based knowledge seeking new insights. The goal is to look holistically at the issue and to present a set of tools or conditions that can be used as stress testing of densification as a strategy.
KeywordsDensification Transport-technology CO2-emissions
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