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BP climate conferees: Cities already smarter

Businesses will play a vital role in helping smart cities adapt to the urgent need to generate less CO2 pollution.

Martin Powell, head of urban development at Siemens AG in London, giving his presentation.

Smart cities are not a future dream – they are already here, according to participants of Action 2020, a professional forum organized by Business Council for Sustainable Development in Hungary (BCSDH) on May 11.

The BCSDH seeks to promote greener business, and its conference, held at the Hungarian headquarters of Siemens here in Budapest, focused on climate change and ways to combat it.

Members of the conference said that the concept of smart cities is no longer a future vision, but rather an ongoing process. They agreed that it is a path that many cities have already started to follow.

“By 2025 cities are required to show a commitment to reduce their CO2 emissions by 50%, and they are left with less than ten years to do that,” Martin Powell, head of urban development at Siemens AG in London, said during his presentation at the event.

As the trend of urbanization continues to draw more people from the countryside, and for more people to own cars and other vehicles, the need to reduce CO2 emissions in order to lower air pollution has never been higher. Fortunately, changes are not only required, but are already happening, BCSDH said in a press statement.

“It is not a question anymore of whether we step on the road paved by greener trends: We have already set off on that road,” Gábor Bartus, secretary of the National Council for Sustainable Development (NCSD) said at the event. He stressed that there are many factors that need to be tackled, such as the projection that the world will have exploited 30% of all its so-called natural capital (natural resources) by 2030. “As the changes needed are longer-term than political cycles, the business and civilian fields should be the engines of sustainability and be the scene for the most innovative solutions being born,” Bartus added.

The role of business is vital, it was stressed. “New solutions, models and sometimes radical changes are needed to implement aims related to climate change, and the role of the business sector has become undisputed, and increasing its positive impact is our mutual responsibility,” BCSDH President Attila Chikán Jr. said.

Yet the changes required are not universal, and while technological solutions can be similar and in many cases are already available, all cities need to implement these customized to their own needs. “Cities are unique and behave in different ways, therefore infrastructure needs to be changed in a way to match the uniqueness of the cities,” Siemens’ Powell commented. “Cities are responsible for the lives and dreams of their dwellers, and they need to develop and grow in a way that nature will not be harmed and citizens will benefit from living an urban life,” he added.