The global warming is primarily caused by the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide which currently has reached 380 parts per million from 280 in the industrial revolution era. The growing carbon dioxide emission resulted from both the burning of fossil fuels and people cooking on firewood will increase the concentration of carbon dioxide to 450 parts per million if rich and poor countries do not together divert from their usual business.
Many studies have been conducted to suggest ways of reducing the concentration of carbon dioxide or the greenhouse gases. One of them is a study released on November 29, 2007 by McKinsey & Company, reported by the New York Times as follows:
[U.S] was brimming with “negative cost opportunities” — potential changes in the
lighting, heating and cooling of buildings, for example, that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels even as they save money... [E]quipment is often paid for by a landlord or a builder and chosen for its low initial cost. The cost of electricity or other fuels to operate the equipment is borne by a tenant or home buyer. That means the landlord or builder has no incentive to spend more upfront for efficient equipment, even though doing so would save a lot of money in the long run.
...[C]onsumers often pay no attention to energy use in choosing gear. Computers, for instance, can be manufactured to use less power, but with most users oblivious to energy efficiency when they are shopping for a computer, manufacturers perceive no
competitive edge in spending the extra money on efficiency.
...[T]he potential is so substantial for energy efficiency,” said Ken Ostrowski, a leader of the report team. “Not that we will do it, but the potential is just staggering here in the U.S. There is a lot of inertia, and a lot of barriers.” The country can do the job with “tested approaches and high-potential emerging technologies,” the study found, but doing the work “will require strong, coordinated, economywide action that begins in the near future.” Measures like capturing carbon dioxide from coal power plants and storing it would be relatively costly, and they account for less than 10 percent of the potential to cut emissions... The potential contributions from new nuclear plants and renewable energy supplies from wind or solar sources are also relatively modest.
What about urban planning? How could urban planners contribute to reduce the greenhouse gases?
Urban areas are a key contributor to the global warming. The carbon dioxide emission are primarily produced from urban activities when fossil fuels are used by transport, industry and households to produce energy. UN Habitat predicted that approximately 80% of the greenhouse gases are resulted from urban activities.
Not only is the increasing greenhouse gases caused by the emission of carbon dioxide, but the decreasing green areas in urban areas, which is supposed to reabsorb carbon dioxide. The existence of green areas in urban areas is needed to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide. This is one way for urban planners to contribute for fighting global warming by advocating more green areas in urban areas.
For a coastal city, the existence of mangroves also needs to be conserved. An Op-Ed in the Jakarta Post by a professor of mangrove ecology at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences provides the rationales of conserving mangroves in Indonesia in connection to reducing global warming, as follows:
Indonesian mangroves grow in areas of high solar radiation and have the ability
to take up fresh water from salt, so they are in an excellent position to achieve high primary productivity... The republic's mangroves are one of the most important parts of the country's estuaries (as a major component of river-basin or river catchment) and a source of conflicts in terms of tropical ecosystems for the direct and indirect benefits it produces.
... The mangrove forest plays many roles including a coastal stabilizer, dispersant of the energy of storms, tidal bores and winds. It is also a convenient nursery area for
fish, shrimp, crabs, mollusks. The role of mangroves in the cycle of nutrients and energy, which makes estuaries among our most important sources of seafood
has been recognized only in recent years... Mangroves along the coasts of Indonesia are vital for global climate changes... The destruction of Indonesian mangroves by mankind, however, is progressing extensively and intensively in a massive manner.
... Conservation of the mangrove ecosystem is a way for "real lasting development. Because the mangrove forest grows at the interface between land and sea, the destruction of this ecosystem causes severe damage to both terrestrial and aquatic neighboring ecosystems... The majority of the world's mangroves lie in Indonesia and Indonesian mangroves contribute 27 percent of the world's mangrove area.
Urban planners also can formulate an accessible, affordable and integrated public transports to reduce the uses of private vehicles. Diverting people from private vehicles to public transport will significantly reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. The use of fuel per passenger per km will significantly less in public transport than that in private vehicles.
Last but not least, urban planners need to discourage suburbanization or urban sprawling. Such phenomenon will only increase the fuel usage. People will drive longer and consume more fuel. Planners need to advocate for a denser or compact city. Such urban type will reduce the trip length and consume less fuel. Planners need to advocate for a self-sustained suburban that needs much less residents' trips to the inner city.