Tackling air pollution needs to start with the world’s cities
By 2050, 68% of the world’s population – or a projected 6.6 billion people – will live in urban areas, including an estimated 50 ‘megacities’. Focusing efforts to reduce air pollution on cities will therefore have the greatest sustained impact on human and economic wellbeing. Our Research analysts see a number of trends emerging to create cleaner cities:
1. Exclusion of pollution laggards
Highly polluting industries may not be welcome in the cities of the future. From low/zero emissions zones and cities such as London and Los Angeles targeting 100% electric vehicles by 2025 and 2050, to stringent pollution standards for new development, smart city design will put pressure on multiple sectors to reduce their contribution to air pollution.
2. Harnessing air quality data
Air pollution varies hour by hour and street by street. The development of continuous, hyper-local emissions data to monitor air pollution will facilitate the integration of clean air technology (see below) into smart cities and help policymakers implement highly focused measures to tackle air quality.
3. Investment in clean air technology
Although the main focus will be on minimising pollutants entering the air, a wave of clean air technology is being deployed in cities from Amsterdam and Berlin to Hong Kong to extract pollution from the environment through air-purifying construction materials, synthetic trees, anti-smog turbines and road-based air filters.
4. Innovation in ‘last mile’ e-commerce delivery
As e-commerce grows, ‘last mile’ parcel delivery has become a major contributor to traffic congestion. Legislation will be required to reduce the emissions impact of this rapidly growing logistics segment, possibly leading to solutions such as bundled delivery and micro-fulfilment centres to serve specific districts.