Asset Publisher

Article

Cities, pollution and climate change: to what extent can green infrastructure help?

Francesc Baró, postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA-UAB); "la Caixa” Social Observatory Award for the best article in the field of Science
null

The available evidence indicates that urban green infrastructure (urban parks, street trees, green roofs and walls, etc.) can make a modest contribution to remedying carbon emissions, reducing heat stress and lowering atmospheric pollution in cities. If we wish to solve these problems, we need to take action on pollution sources because compensatory measures based on nature are far from sufficient. Urban green infrastructure strategies can play a role by complementing, but not replacing, pollution reduction strategies.
Key points
  • 1
       Urban policies on mitigating climate change and atmospheric pollution need to focus primarily on pollution sources (traffic, transport systems, heating, etc.) rather than the so-called ‘sinks’ (solutions in the form of reservoirs capable of absorbing or countering contaminants but which have a very limited capacity).
  • 2
       Urban parks, street trees and plants on buildings can act as areas and corridors of clean, cool air in cities and are particularly important due to the lack of available land in urban population centres. Most of these elements serve multiple functions for the three ‘ecosystem’ services in question: air quality, local temperature and carbon sequestering.
  • 3
       To improve human health in cities it is essential to improve air quality and thermal comfort, aspects on which urban green infrastructure can provide good support at a local level.
  • 4
       With regard to the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, local and metropolitan authorities need to foster carbon offsetting beyond their urban boundaries, as this is a challenge on a global scale. Green infrastructure can be employed to impact on transport systems and pollution sources (power stations, large industrial companies, etc.) that are located at a distance from urban population centres.
Ability of urban green infrastructure to mitigate problems associated with pollution


In urban areas, priority is usually given to infrastructure that contributes to improving the quality of the environment and the health and wellbeing of the urban population. This infrastructure is focused, for example, on air purification, noise abatement and urban temperature control. However, the extent to which green infrastructure can provide these ‘ecosystem’ services effectively depends on numerous structural, functional and environmental conditions.

Classification

Tags

Subject areas

Related content

Dossier

Young people, opportunities, and futures

What challenges are faced by young people in Spain and Portugal? In the Social Observatory’s twelfth Dossier, we analyse it.

Article

Personal relationships of young adults in Spain and Portugal

What factors contribute most to the social isolation of young people? We analyse the influence of the family network in countries in the south of Europe.

Article

Use of social media well-being adolescents

Eight out of every ten adolescents consume contents on social media every day.

Article

Inequality of carbon emissions across income and age in Spain

The top 1% of carbon emitters have a carbon footprint that is 7 times higher than the average.

Article

Attitudes towards climate change vary with age

Young people often place greater importance on climate change than on the economic situation.

You may also find interesting

Use of social media well-being adolescents

Article

Use of social media well-being adolescents


Science

Eight out of every ten adolescents consume contents on social media every day.

Attitudes towards climate change vary with age

Article

Attitudes towards climate change vary with age


Science

Young people often place greater importance on climate change than on the economic situation.

Suicide-related calls to 112

Article

Suicide-related calls to 112


Science

According to a study conducted in Valencia, suicide calls to 112 increased during the period 2017-2022.