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Lecture 10: Urban Metabolism: Conceptualizing the City as an Organism

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Lecture 10: Urban Metabolism: Conceptualizing the City as an Organism
Dr. Alexandros Gasparatos (University of Tokyo)
2018 ProSPER.Net Young Researchers' School
8 March 2018

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Lecture 10: Urban Metabolism: Conceptualizing the City as an Organism

  1. 1. Urban metabolism and the environmental impact of cities Alexandros Gasparatos Associate Professor, IR3S
  2. 2. 2006-2008 Researcher (SUE-MOT programme), University of Dundee 2008-2009 Canon Foundation Fellow, UNU-IAS 07/2009 PhD in Ecological Economics, University of Dundee “Sustainability assessment with reductionist tools: Methodological issues and case studies”. 2009-2011 JSPS-UNU Fellow, UNU-IAS 2011-2013 Marie Curie Fellow and James Martin Fellow, Oxford University 2013- Associate Professor in Sustainability Science About me
  3. 3. Research interests Sustainability assessment and ecosystem services valuation theory Biofuels/industrial crop expansion in Africa, and the impacts on: • sustainability • ecosystem services • food security Social Metabolism (e.g. diet changes: drivers and impacts) Biodiversity and the Green Economy
  4. 4. Definitions Urban metabolism is a conceptual framework that can be used to understand the impact of urban activity (or specific urban processes), on its hinterland and other parts of the world. …“the sum total of the technical and socio-economic processes that occur in cities, resulting in growth, production of energy, and elimination of waste” (Kennedy et al., 2007). Cities are conceptualized as living organisms that consume energy/materials/ food/etc and produce products/services but also pollution and waste. This is done by drawing analogies between production/consumption/ emission patterns within cities with the metabolic processes of organisms (Kennedy et al., 2011)
  5. 5. Urban system Raw resources Fuels/energy Minerals Water Food/Biomass etc Resources embedded in products Fuels/energy Water Emissions/pollution Atmospheric emissions Aquatic pollutants Solid waste Finished products Materials/energy embedded in products Resource transformation Material accumulation within the urban system Material/energy flows leaving the urban system Inputs Outputs Recycling Gasparatos, 2017 Conceptual framework
  6. 6. Newell and Cousins, 2015
  7. 7. Newell and Cousins, 2015
  8. 8. NewellandCousins,2015
  9. 9. Newell and Cousins, 2015
  10. 10. NewellandCousins,2015
  11. 11. Questions What is the aggregate natural resource consumption within a city? What are the aggregate environmental impacts of urban consumption? What are the resource requirements of different urbanisation patterns?
  12. 12. Wolman, A. (1965). The metabolism of cities. Scientific American, 179-190.
  13. 13. Warren-Rhodes and Koenig 2001
  14. 14. Barles, 2007
  15. 15. Lei and Wang, 2008
  16. 16. Barrett et al., 2002
  17. 17. Folke et al, 1997
  18. 18. Kennedy et al, 2011
  19. 19. City typologies http://www.urbanmetabolism.org/projects/global-cities-typology/
  20. 20. City typologies Comparative juxtaposition of two contrasting urban resource profiles. On the left is a city type of low human development index (HDI) of the global south, on the right a city-type of high HDI. Independent variables include biomass (Bio), fossil fuels (FF), total energy (TE), electricity (EL), carbon dioxide emissions (CO2), industrial metals and minerals (Ind), total materials (TM), and construction materials (Con). The scale is a relative measure of per capita consumption. Fernandez,2016
  21. 21. City typologies
  22. 22. Biophysical accounting - account for how much energy/matter/etc has been invested in the production of products/services consumed within cities. Sometimes the different inflows/outflows are translated in the same metric (e.g. emergy synthesis, ecological footprint) It is assumed that the single most important yardstick when understanding the impacts of urban activity is the amount of natural resources appropriated, as a proxy to environmental impact. cost of production theory of value – ecocentric Monetary accounting - focus on human (consumer) preferences. Quantify and account for WTP/WTA which is a proxy for the utility (happiness) that a person is expected to gain from consuming or forfeiting consumption subjective preference theory of value - anthropocentric (Farber et al., 2002: 379)
  23. 23. Meat consumption trends in Tokyo
  24. 24. 0.0 200.0 400.0 600.0 800.0 1000.0 1200.0 kcal/cap/day Animal products Beans and pulses Cereals (not incl. rice) Fish, shellfish, aquatic products Fruits Meat Oilseeds, oilcrops Rice Roots Vegetables Other Diet shifts in Japan FAO, 2013
  25. 25. 0.0 200.0 400.0 600.0 800.0 1000.0 1200.0 1961 1963 1965 1967 1969 1971 1973 1975 1977 1979 1981 1983 1985 1987 1989 1991 1993 1995 1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007 kcal/cap/day Fish, shellfish, aquatic products Meat Oilseeds, oilcrops Rice Diet shifts in Japan FAO, 2013
  26. 26. Meat consumption trends 0 25 50 75 100 1949 1952 1955 1958 1961 1964 1967 1970 1973 1976 1979 1982 1985 1988 1991 1994 1997 2000 2003 g/capita/day Meat consumption Tokyo Japan 0 20 40 60 80 100 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2006 gperdayperperson Meat vs. fish consumption in Tokyo Fish and Shellfish Meat
  27. 27. Questions How have diets changes Tokyo have affected meat production in Japan (and as an extent the agricultural system)? implications for food security How have diet changes in Tokyo affected direct land use change and natural capital within Japan? Implication for environmental sustainability Where does this happen?
  28. 28. Meat production trends Production increase Beef – 2.5 times Pork – 5 times Import increase Beef – 90 times Pork – 1400 times 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1961 1964 1967 1970 1973 1976 1979 1982 1985 1988 1991 1994 1997 2000 2003 1000tons Beef Production Imports 0 400 800 1200 1600 2000 1961 1964 1967 1970 1973 1976 1979 1982 1985 1988 1991 1994 1997 2000 2003 1000tons Pork Production Imports 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 1960 1963 1966 1969 1972 1975 1978 1981 1984 1987 1990 1993 1996 1999 2002 percentage Self-sufficiency ratio Beef Pork
  29. 29. Meat production trends 0 2 4 6 8 0 200 400 600 800 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 Area(1000ha) Beef Area Animals per hectare 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 Area(1000ha) Pork Area Animals per hectare
  30. 30. Land use trends Gadda and Gasparatos, 2009
  31. 31. Meat consumption trends 0.0 40.0 80.0 120.0 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 Beef(1000t) Beef supply in Tokyo Consumed Imported Wholesale Retail 0 50 100 150 200 250 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 Pork(1000t) Pork supply in Tokyo Consumed Imported Wholesale Retail
  32. 32. Land use trends % beef sold in Tokyo wholesale market region % pork sold in Tokyo wholesale market region
  33. 33. Land use trends 0 2,000 4,000 6,000 Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku Other Kanto South Kanto Higashimaya TokaiKinki Chugoku Shikoku North Kyushu South Kyushu Okinawa Pork - Area (ha) 1975 2005 0 25,000 50,000 Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku Other Kanto South Kanto Higashimaya TokaiKinki Chugoku Shikoku North Kyushu South Kyushu Okinawa Beef - Area (ha) 1975 2005
  34. 34. Emergy synthesis Gasparatos, 2011
  35. 35. Meat consumption trends 0.00E+00 2.00E+21 4.00E+21 6.00E+21 Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku Other Kanto South Kanto Higashimaya TokaiKinki Chugoku Shikoku North Kyushu South Kyushu Okinawa Pork - Emergy (sej) 1975 2005 0.00E+00 2.00E+20 4.00E+20 6.00E+20 Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku Other Kanto South Kanto Higashiyama TokaiKinki Chugoku Shikoku North Kyushu South Kyushu Okinawa Pork - Emergy (sej) - Tokyo 1975 2005
  36. 36. Meat consumption trends 0.00E+00 2.50E+21 5.00E+21 7.50E+21 Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku Other Kanto South Kanto Higashimaya TokaiKinki Chugoku Shikoku North Kyushu South Kyushu Okinawa Beef - Emergy (sej) - Japan 1975 2005 0.00E+00 2.50E+20 5.00E+20 7.50E+20 1.00E+21 Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku Other Kanto South Kanto Higashiyama TokaiKinki Chugoku Shikoku North Kyushu South Kyushu Okinawa Beef - Emergy (sej) - Tokyo
  37. 37. Tokyo study conclusions Meat consumption in Tokyo has increased significantly within the past 60-70 years, but still Tokyo depends to a large extent to its surrounding areas for its meat Direct land use change has been reducing over time due to intensification Overall natural capital appropriation has increased due to (i)increasing demand (ii)industrialization of the meat production system Attempts to increase the low self-sufficiency ratio of livestock products through boosting domestic production (a food security objective pushed by Japanese MAFF) will most likely result in a significant increase of the natural resources appropriated by the agricultural sector. Food security and energy security seem to be becoming two interconnected policy realities in Japan.
  38. 38. Lessons learnt from Tokyo study Possible to locate the areas that the food consumed in cities is produced, and quantify associated environmental burdens. Maybe not possible for all food commodities, particularly bulk commodities and commodities that are dominating the food processing industries (e.g. vegetable oils, corn, wheat, soy, sugar, etc) Main problems -Nature of the food chains -Need to integrate and manipulate dozens of datasets collected from several different organisations (increases uncertainly and possibility of incompatibility of datasets) -Contradictions between datasets; e.g. food surveys and wholesale market sales (e.g. Sao Paulo) -Can answer at best “how much and from where” questions, and not “why from there” Implication: ability to accurately quantify teleconnections.
  39. 39. Limitations, challenges and principles for urban metabolism studies
  40. 40. Limitations and challenges The standard urban metabolism concept usually only provides information on environmental pressures in terms of the amount of resources extracted or the amount of pollution generated. Little information is usually provided in terms of how this might change aspects of environmental quality (and where) or how this might relate to basic concepts of environmental sustainability such as resilience or biodiversity maintenance. (Minx et al., 2011)
  41. 41. Limitations and challenges A city’s metabolism can be connected not only to global, but also to local and regional environmental problems anywhere across the globe. It is particularly difficult to: •trace the metabolic flows back to particular locations through global supply chains •assess how changes in urban metabolic patterns affect complex and dynamic ecosystems. This challenge is not a result of the conceptualisation of urban metabolism per se but on its operationalisation as: •data requirements are huge •there is a lack of spatially disaggregated data (i.e. impossible to know the exact point of origin of most inputs) •the uncertainties involved are significant
  42. 42. Limitations and challenges Metabolic flows can be shaped by drivers such as • land use planning • infrastructure decisions • the economic role of the city • lifestyles of its residents. Urban metabolism studies usually cannot distinguish the actual effect of such drivers. One of the key questions for urban metabolism research is how trends in urban metabolic flows are linked to trends in spatial structure, urban organizations and lifestyles. (Minx et al., 2011)
  43. 43. Limitations and challenges The standard urban metabolism concept fails to consider aspects of the quality of life of urban residents, e.g. local environmental quality, human health, accessibility, employment opportunities, urban design quality and so on. It also fails to understand the inequalities of resource use/access.
  44. 44. Limitations and challenges Depending on the local policy option chosen a metabolic change can improve, deteriorate or leave urban quality unaltered. It is crucial to establish a link between urban metabolic flows and aspects of urban quality. This is relevant for choosing the most appropriate policies and making conscious trade-offs between local and system-wide consequences.
  45. 45. Moving forward: Principles Consumption based accounting: ….centered around a set of consumption based indicators in order to evaluate requirements on environmental sources and sinks triggered by urban final demands. This needs a systems approach similar to the one applied in life cycle analysis. Completeness: …cover all types of metabolic inflows and describe them throughout the global supply chains of goods and services consumed in urban areas. Beyond environmental pressures: …go beyond environmental pressures and establish links to potential local, regional and global environmental impacts.
  46. 46. Principles Interlinkages: …describe the relationship between metabolic inflows/outflows, AND urban patterns and urban quality, in order to determine environmental impacts associated with ongoing urbanization processes. Pragmatism: …focus on pragmatism, i.e. what can be done with existing information and datasets. The same pragmatism must be applied when propositions are made based on urban metabolism studies considering the significant uncertainties involved. Transparency: ….high levels of transparency in terms of data sources and estimation methodology, given that local data quality might fluctuate considerably.
  47. 47. Thanks for your attention gasparatos@ir3s.u-tokyo.ac.jp

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