The list of the world's most polluted cities, published by the World Health Organization, is almost a roll call of the largest cities in China and India.
There has been a move away from cities in some developed economies amid lockdowns for the past three years, but the reality is that there has been much greater global migration to cities in recent decades, as ESG Clarity reports.
Increasing pollution in these ever-growing cities poses a serious health and environmental problem, but one that can be addressed with the right. This should be supported by a detailed understanding of local micro-environments and pollution hotspots for emissions.
Urban areas are now home to 55% of the world's population, a figure that is expected to rise to 68% by 2050. Cities currently account for only 2% of global land usage, while generating 70% of global waste and by consuming nearly 80% of the world's energy. They consume more water, energy and natural resources and emit more heat and pollutants than the landscape.
In Asia, the two most populous countries in the region illustrate why. In 2000, only 36% of the Chinese population lived in cities, , while 50 years earlier it was only 13%. it was 64% in 2020, after more than 400 million people moved to cities over a 20-year period. India, meanwhile, has seen the percentage of the population living in cities rise to 35% in 2021, from 28% in 2000 and to 17% in 1950.
In China and India, the shift in the urban-rural balance has exacerbated already endemic environmental pollution alongside virtually unchecked economic growth. The Gobi Desert dust storms hitting Beijing, northeast China, Korea and Japan are more toxic as they collect factory and car fumes.
This means planners need to make informed long-term decisions. You need to understand local micro-environments, air quality, and pressure points for emissions such as a busy road junction, construction site, or perhaps a certain time of day.