Rubab Nazar, Green Blogger

Revolution is an universal concept and it always results in a change. Industrial Revolution has significant historical importance in terms of economic and environmental implications. Urbanization provides the enlightening facilities of comfortable residence, convenient transport, quality education, sound healthcare and an easy to industrial products. These ingredients of urban life always urge people to turn towards cities. No doubt that urbanization is a step towards development but there is need to assure if this development is really sustainable?

In the present time, the rate of urbanization is increasing tremendously. According to World Economic Forum, 54% of the world’s population is resident of urban areas and by 2030 cities will be home for 63% of the global population. When the urban population increases to such extent, the climatic impacts also become manifold.

The role of cities in driving climate change is determined by the measure of air emissions from transport and industrial sectors. According to Asian Development Bank, cities have 80% contribution to global GDP and according to IPCC, cities have 75% contribution to global carbon emissions. This shows that in the process of urbanization, sustainability is left far behind in various sectors. Resultantly, the unsustainable industrial growth and increased number of vehicles on the roads will result in the high magnitude of air pollution leading to Climate Change. A report of IEA depicts that 70% of the global energy is consumed by cities.

Deforestation and change in land use patterns are appearing as the negative outcomes of urbanization. For the development of urban areas, agricultural land is cleared out and diverse infrastructures are built. Then, there becomes the need to broaden the roads to accommodate that massive flow of vehicles. Due to this the practice of cutting trees along the roads is becoming common. Hence, the sinks of Carbon Sequestration are being lost rapidly. Forest area must cover 25% of a country’s total land but in Pakistan it covers only 1.9% of the total area.


Lahore, which is the second largest city of Pakistan, is continuously suffering from the influence of rapid urbanization. Although this city keeps industrial and economic fame, but its worst air quality is the evidence of changed land use patterns in this city. A research conducted in Lahore using Remote Sensing and GIS shows that every year more than 1200 hectares of the city’s agricultural and forest land is captured for urban uses. Moreover, every year 200 new housing schemes are introduced to accommodate the population burden of Lahore. Since 1972 to onwards, around 250 villages have been swallowed by the urban growth of Lahore city. According to WHO, the concentration of PM 2.5 in Lahore’s air was recorded 136.5 µg/m3 during the winter smog in 2019. The scenario of this city can be picturized for all unsustainable industrial cities of the world to imagine the drastic conditions into which the climate is changing. 

In the light of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), urbanization has both positive and negative aspects. By the development of cities, the fulfillment of SDG 4(Quality Education), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure) can be ensured. However, urbanization has negative trend in relevance to SDG 13 (Climate Action) because cities provoke climate change such that it results in floods, droughts, hurricanes and variable weather patterns. Hence, it requires the force of global climate action to stop and to mitigate the emissions from urban areas.

Industrialization is the primary tool for economic growth of any country. Developed countries boosted their economy by setting industries and explored natural resources of oil, coal and petroleum to run their industries which resulted in negative climatic impacts. This fact cannot be ignored that developed countries have higher contribution to global emissions but now this also cannot be denied that those countries have applied sustainability in their development. It is very essential for developing countries to ensure sustainable development because these countries are already facing the consequences of fossil fuel burning done by developed countries.

The need is to integrate sustainable solutions into industrial and transportation sectors. Developed countries are economically strong enough to mitigate the air emissions coming from various sectors. If developing countries do not move on the path of green technology, the effect of climate change can double for them. Policy making must be done by the government such that the industries releasing air emissions should be charged. Also, the government can provide incentives or subsidies. Carbon scrubbers must be installed by the industries and the process of LCA must be followed. The carbon footprints of fuel to be used in industry and transport should be determined. Catalytic converters must be installed in vehicles. Afforestation and public transportation must be encouraged. Renewable energy is the ultimate solution to act as Sustainable Cities and Communities!

About the Author: Rubab Nazar is an undergraduate student of Environmental Science at GC University, Lahore. In the present time of various environmental crises, she wants to play her individual role by creating awareness with the power of pen. She has research interests in Climate Change and Sustainability.