What are some behavioural and technological responses to helping the environment around the world?
Events have taken place in more than 100 countries to mark World Environment Day, which is promoting the idea of "green cities".
The UN estimates that more than 60% of people will live in cities by 2030.
World Environment Day was established by the UN General Assembly in 1972 to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. It is celebrated each year on 5 June.
The day highlights ways of managing expansion to benefit people and their surroundings.
The UN environment agency says local governments, businesses and industry must work together to build change.
Four-fifths of the gas linked to global warming comes from cities, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says.
This year's World Environment Day has focused on ways of making cities more environmentally friendly and resource-efficient.
Events held across the world included a ban on cars in the Greek port of Zakynthos, tree-planting along the tsunami-devastated coastline of Sri Lanka, and a fashion show at the World Expo in Aichi, Japan encouraging workers to abandon ties and suit jackets, in order to cut air conditioning costs in summer.
Tokyo is a rare example of an MEDC city that has continued to grow very rapidly in recent decades. New concrete skyscrapers have intensified the heat island effect to the point where the Japanese government has recently introduced a novel law: 20% of all new building developments must be covered with trees or grass. Vegetation stops heat from penetrating into the urban fabric. This helps to reduce radiation heat storage, thereby lowering urban air temperatures. Typically, this is achieved by the provision of roof gardens. For instance, the Roppongi Hills multiplex cinema complex is covered with a 1,300 square metre spread of grasses, trees and shrubs.
Urban areas with five million inhabitants or more, 1975-2015
Table from United Nations: World Urbanization Prospects: The 2001 Revision Chapter 6
This is a behavioural response to the problem of climate change but Japan is also a leader in developing new environmental technologies to reduce the impact on the environment. One innovative example is a large-scale ship that has an environment-friendly engine. NYK Line is constructing a series of these ‘eco-ships’ that have a limited impact on the environment as a result of features such as a ship design that reduces wind resistance and fuel consumption. The ‘Eco-ship’ which embarked on its maiden voyage in 12 June 2005, reduces ballast water which stabilizes the hull by half, thus improving transport efficiency, and focuses on the protection of marine ecosystems through its electronically controlled engine which decreases nitrogen-oxide (NOx) emissions by about 15 percent compared to existing ship designs.
For World Environment Day NYK Line, like many other companies, is encouraging staff to change behaviors to help reduce the carbon footprint on the planet. has an active on-land logistics business incorporating truck and warehouse operations, the NYK Group encouraged their truck drivers and employees reduce engine idling to as part of a land-based energy-saving campaign.
An electronically controlled system optimally times fuel injection and the opening and shutting of exhaust valves, which enables the engine to operate at optimal combustion efficiency. In particular, this type of engine improves combustion efficiency because of the high level of fuel injection pressure that can be maintained even in the low-load range. Therefore, the improvement reduces the generation of NOx, soot, and smoke to a significant degree. In addition, since stabilized combustion is maintained, the reliability of the engine improves, which is also one of the beneficial characteristics of this engine
World Environment Day has an agenda to give a human face to environmental issues; empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development; promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues; and advocate partnership which will ensure all nations and peoples enjoy a safer and more prosperous future. This response to the challenges of climate change and reducing our impact on the environment are very much focused at the individual and corporate level. The G8 summit is where the big decisions on climate change are to be made. For more on the G8 and climate see our G8 report.
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