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Sustainability transitions require an understanding of smaller cities

Mohareb, E. ORCID: and Perrotti, D. (2023) Sustainability transitions require an understanding of smaller cities. Journal of Industrial Ecology. ISSN 1530-9290

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/jiec.13434


As we approach a global population where 60% of us live in cities, urban areas must be our focal point in the transition to the flourishing societies of future decades. While much attention has been paid over the past decade to understanding urban consumption patterns, the overwhelming majority of recent urban metabolism research has focused on larger cities with populations over one million inhabitants. Meanwhile, estimates show that more people live in urban areas with populations between 300,000 and one million people than in mega cities. Indeed, given their relatively small size, there are many more of these cities to study than larger cities; many more urban governments need to be informed of the solutions that are relevant to the context of their less dense populations. Our goals to decarbonize and dematerialize societies require discussions of measures that are applicable to different types of urban areas across various population scales. We take the example of the town of Reading, UK to illustrate how per capita urban metabolic flows differ within small- and medium-sized cities, as well as for megacities. For example, relative to Reading, we find that there is substantial variability in energy demand for small cities (for Le Mans, >200%) and for larger cities (>50% for other European and North American megacities). This underscores the need to explore this under-researched area of urban metabolism, as well as the development of a typology to enable comparisons and differentiate strategies for sustainability transitions.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of the Built Environment > Construction Management and Engineering
Science > School of the Built Environment > Energy and Environmental Engineering group
ID Code:111963


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