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5 Concluding Remarks -- Future Scenarios Towards Low Carbon Cities 2025

5 Concluding Remarks -- Future Scenarios Towards Low Carbon Cities 2025

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C.-S. Ho and W.-K. Fong





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Fig. 10.6 Concept of Kaya identity. Source: NIES (2006)

strong sustainable conurbation of international standing (Khazanah Nasional 2006).

Therefore to plan for a low carbon city, it is important to reduce CO2 emission by

reducing energy and carbon intensity.

Among the measures that may reduce energy intensity are low energy buildings,

establishment of recycling system, transit oriented development, and Brownfield

development, as explained in further detail below.

10.5.1 Low Energy Building

Low carbon buildings are defined as those that use 20–30 kWh/m2 of energy. Low

energy buildings typically use high level of insulation in cold countries, energy efficient windows, low level air infiltration and heat recovery ventilation. In the case

of tropical countries, passive solar building design techniques are used. As space

cooling and water heating are highest percentage of household energy consumption, reduction of air conditioning and water heating can reduce the total energy

demand significantly. This measure is already adopted as policy strategies in livable

communities for the IM region.

10.5.2 Establishment of Recycling System

Businesses generate a lot of wastes that require different types of refuse disposal

facilities, such as landfills and incinerators. Japan has successfully reduced landfill wastes by about 75% per annum by recycling, reduction and reuse. In order to

establish favourable recycling system in IM, it is important to reduce waste generation as well as to establish a system to recycle waste as resources. Public awareness

and education on the importance of the recycling as well as setting up centres for

collection of recyclable materials are important.


Towards a Sustainable Regional Development in Malaysia


10.5.3 Transit Development

The linear spatial development pattern of IM along the Johor Bahru –Kulai – Pasir

Gudang corridor provides great opportunities to for the region to develop rail system and develop the urban centres based on the TOD concept. The recent proposal

for a Light Rail Transit along these corridors will help to promote the use of public

transport to reduce dependence on private vehicle usage. This form of TOD development may reduce traffic on the roads and revitalize urban neighbourhood. The

changing demographics and lifestyle of urban society of IM is similar to developed countries that indicates trend of growing number of smaller households and

retiring baby boomers who opt to live in smaller homes in urban areas. There is a

trend of demand to revitalize denser and more convenient living choices or decentralized concentrated urban centres. This yuppies and new urbanized society desires

walkable communities with easy access to public transportation. This measure has

also been adopted as one of the planning strategies of CDP (Chapter 16) to ensure

viability of public transport.

10.5.4 Brownfield Development

The urban regeneration involve redeveloping brownfields either those abandoned

or low density and uneconomic use of land for higher density development. Urban

infill development is gaining popularity not only in developed countries but also in

Malaysia. Apart from energy efficient and reduction in CO2 emission, this form of

development allows the existing infrastructure and amenities to be used and also

prevent urban inner city decay.

Among the measures that may be able to reduce carbon intensity include the

usage of alternative fuels such as bio-fuel, and prevent deforestation and promote

carbon sink, particularly for the RAMSAR site and Sungai Pulai wetland.

10.5.5 Use of Alternative Fuel – Bio-fuel

In order to create low carbon cities in IM, it is important to look into the potential of reducing dependence on fossil fuel. This is where economy in which CO2

emissions from the use of carbon based fuels (coal, oil and gas) can be significantly

reduced. As Malaysia is a palm oil exporting nation, bio-fuel from palm oil provides

a viable alternative for the government to consider. The optimal reduction is when

the cities adopt zero carbon policies where any form of carbon emission is prohibited. According to the CDP, IM will experience high GDP growth of 8% per annum

as compared with the Johor state average of 5.5% per annum (without SJER). In

order to sustain such rapid economic growth, population will reach about 3 million

by year 2025 and population growth rate is expected to be about 4.1% as compared


C.-S. Ho and W.-K. Fong

with the annual state average of 2.1%. This will result in increases in energy demand

due to industrialization and urbanization.

Low carbon intensity can also be achieved through the use energy efficiency

measures. It also showed that energy efficiency could yield significant reduction

in CO2 emission at low cost and the substitution of renewable energy sources for

fossils fuels and nuclear power including transport electrification. New technologies

such as hydrogen solution power and carbon capture and storage should be explored

in the near future.

Low carbon intensity may not always contribute to increase production cost

for the enterprises. This is because a higher energy efficiency of low carbon energies, existing technological improvement, and increase cost of carbon fuels and the

introduction of carbon taxes or carbon trading.

10.5.6 Prevent Deforestation and Promote Carbon

Sink – RAMSAR Site and Sungai Pulai Wetland

Protection, preservation and enhancement of bio-diversity and natural green environment is an important policy. The total area of natural and green environment

in IM is more than 150,000 ha including forests, mangrove areas, parks and open

spaces as well as the agricultural areas. These green areas will play an important role

as a carbon sink to absorb CO2 . Apart from the significance of Sungai Pulai Forest

and wetland reserve of more than 9,000 ha as world renowned designated RAMSAR

site, it is also one of the main catchment areas for water supply to Singapore and

Johor Bahru. Sungai Pulai forest reserve consists of several areas including Kukup

Island and Piai Cape (southernmost of the Asian Continent), National Park of Piai

and Permanent Forest of Sungai Pulai.

All the above eco-friendly measures require a long-term thinking and they constitute an important technological, institutional, and social change to ensure successful

implementation. In order to achieve the environmental goal for the IM it is important to set environmental targets for 2025. The key options to reduce CO2 emission

require possible combination of countermeasures on the energy demand and supply.

Apart from urban planning, the roadmap to achieve low carbon cities requires

strong political will and decisive actions especially incentives of non-spatial policies

such as to promote energy efficiency, renewal energy, recycling, and spatial policies

such as TOD, regeneration/brownfield development, and energy saving building.

From the above System Dynamics simulations, it is expected that if the present

high growth scenario prevails, and if aggressive energy saving measures were not

taken, by 2025, CO2 emissions from energy use is likely to increase to more than

three times of the present level. In terms of emission per capita, the present level of

emission rate is quite low, only about 4.1 metric tons per capita, which is well lower

than the major cities in the developed countries such as Tokyo (5.8 metric tons

per capita) and Greater London (6.9 metric tons per capita). However, should the

high economic and population growths as envisaged by the Malaysian Government


Towards a Sustainable Regional Development in Malaysia


prevail, and the society is enjoying material affluence without giving much attention

on energy saving, it is projected that the emission rate would significantly increase to

6.9 metric tons per capita in 2025. Nevertheless, if aggressive energy saving strategies were being drawn up and implemented in the government policies from national

to local levels, and the general public are well aware of the importance of energy

saving lifestyle, it is possible to bring down the CO2 emission rate to 5.0 metric tons

per capita in 2025 as shown in DM Scenario in Section 10.4.3 above. Therefore as

a proactive measure, planning for low carbon city measures should be adopted in

the planning and implementation of the CDP to ensure a more sustainable urban

conurbation in south Johor where the Iskandar Economic Region is located.


Dietz, T. & Rosa, E. A. (1997). Effects of population and affluence on CO2 emissions. Proceedings

of the National Academy of Sciences, 94: 175–179.

Energy Information Administration (2007). http://ww.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/emission. Accessed 4

November 2007.

EPU (2001). Eight Malaysia plan 2001–2005. Putrajaya: Economic Planning Unit.

EPU (2006). Ninth Malaysia plan 2006–2010. Putrajaya: Economic Planning Unit.

Fong, W. K., Lun, Y. F. & Matsumoto, H. (2009). Prediction of carbon dioxide emissions for rapid

growing city of developing country. The HKIE Transactions, 16(2): 1–8.

Khazanah Nasional (2006). Comprehensive development plan for South Johor economic region

2006–2025. Kuala Lumpur: Khazanah Nasional.

NIES (2006). Aligning climate change and sustainability-scenarios, modeling and policy analysis.

Tsukuba: National Institute for Environmental Studies.

Sandrasagra Mitre, J. (2007). Climate change: cities getting serious about CO2 emissions. http://

www.psnews.net/news.asp?idnews=37765. Accessed 2 November 2007.

Shi, A. (2001). Population growth and global carbon dioxide emissions. Proceedings of the IUSSP

conference. http://www.iussp.org/Brazil2001/soo/S09_Shi.pdf. Accessed 4 November 2007.

TMG (2006). Tokyo environmental white paper 2006. Tokyo: Tokyo Department of Environment.

http://www2.kankyo.metro.tokyo.jp/kikaku/hakusho/2006/outline.html. Accessed 6 November

2007. (in Japanese).

UN (2002). World urbanization prospects: the 2001 revision. New York, NY: United Nations.

United Nations Environment Programme/GRID-Arendal (2007). National carbon dioxide

(CO2 ) emissions per capita. http://maps.grida.no/go/graphic/national_carbon_dioxide_co2_

emissions_per_capita. Accessed 2 November 2007.

World Resource Institute (WRI) (2007a). http://earthtrends.wri.org/searchable_db/index.php?

theme=3&variable_ID=470&action=select_countries. Accessed on 2 November 2007.

World Resource Institute (WRI) (2007b). http://earthtrends.wri.org/pdf-library/data_tables/

cli_2005. Accessed 2 November 2007.

Yale University (2005). Environmental sustainability index study –national benchmark environmental management. New Haven, CT: Yale University.

Part III

Micro Local Planning: Design

and Methods

Chapter 11

Presentation of Ecological Footprint

Information: A Re-examination

Hoong-Chor Chin and Reuben Mingguang Li

Abstract In a short span of two decades, the ecological footprint concept as a

framework for impact assessment and sustainability planning through the focus on

earthly “capital” limits in the form of land resources has grown in popularity. A

unique selling point of the concept is its focus on physical limits, thereby making it an “area-based analogue” of other popular impact assessment methodologies.

In this chapter, a critical re-examination of the presentation of ecological footprint

information is attempted with reference to past studies. In particular, the aspect of

“spatiality” and “visualization” of the ecological footprint is explored by juxtaposing popular presentation techniques with the original goals of ecological footprint

analysis. The result of the discussion is an identification of several shortcomings

inherent in presentation techniques in ecological footprint literature and a subsequent suggestion of a standardized, spatial presentation technique that is in-line with

present trajectories in the field of study. The ultimate aim of this chapter is to allow

the various manifestations of ecological consumptions to be “mapped” in a comparable and meaningful manner (and traced dynamically), with a degree of flexibility

among the different approaches to ecological footprint analysis.

11.1 Introduction

Nearly two decades have passed since William Rees and Mathis Wackernagel

introduced the concept of ecological footprint (Fp ) as a means to illustrate the

impact of humans on the natural environment and resources (Rees 1992, Rees

and Wackernagel 1994, Wackernagel and Rees 1996). The ecological footprint, not

without its detractors, has shown much promise in terms of accounting for the overusage of earthly “capital” in the form of land resources. Literature on ecological

footprint research and related case studies have taken on several trajectories as

H.-C. Chin (B)

Department of Civil Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore

e-mail: ceechc@nus.edu.sg

T.-C. Wong, B. Yuen (eds.), Eco-city Planning, DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-0383-4_11,

C Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011



H.-C. Chin and R.M. Li

the methodologies employed become increasingly complex. Among these are subnational level footprint studies (e.g. Wackernagel et al. 1999, Hu et al. 2008, Scotti

et al. 2009); sector-based studies (e.g. Bicknell et al. 1998, Herva et al. 2008); policy

analysis and comparison (Liu and Kobayashi 2006, Browne et al. 2008); ecological

footprint analysis of specific themes (e.g. production activity: Ferng 2001, commuting: Müniz and Galindo 2005, vehicle travel: Chi and Stone 2005; fuels: Holden and

Hoyer 2005); remote sensing-aided studies (e.g. Cai et al. 2007); and research that

employ time series (e.g. Lammers et al. 2008). These studies provide a form of measurement to gauge the sustainability of human activities within regions, countries

and cities.

As the concept of ecological footprint is becoming increasingly popular and useful, in particular, towards environmental conservation and building of eco-cities,

there have been attempts to improve the methodologies underlying the calculation

of ecological footprint. It is not in the scope of this chapter to discuss the intricacies of computing accurate ecological footprints. Rather, the focus here is to add on

to the process of refining ecological footprint research by re-examining the downstream portion of the research procedure – the presentation of ecological footprint


It is our opinion that ecological footprint research has progressed well, in terms

of versatility and popularity, since the mid-1990s. However, several elements of the

ecological footprint have to be scrutinized in detail to allow for the re-alignment

of future research towards the original aims of the ecological footprint concept.

In particular, we found that a certain lack of focus in the spatiality aspect of the

ecological footprint, which in turn hampers the effectiveness of the presentation

of results of various footprint studies conducted. In re-examining the available

literature with relation to the original aims of the ecological footprint, some suggestions are made in the hope of further improving the efficacy of ecological footprint


11.2 The Evolution of the Ecological Footprint Concept

As previously mentioned, the ecological footprint concept was the brainchild of

Rees and his then-PhD student Wackernagel. In a 1992 paper, Rees (1992: 121)

first presented the idea of “appropriated carrying capacity” and “ecological footprint:” in response to the way mainstream urban economics dealt with sustainability

issues. His view was that the conventional economic method of analyzing sustainable development was blind to issues such as environmental justice – where more

developed nations consumed more of the Earth’s natural capital than appropriate

(e.g. consumption exceeds the availability of natural capital within the nation’s political boundary). However, this remained a purely theoretical approach as little or no

attention was placed on specific methodologies to measure ecological footprints.

Wackernagel’s PhD thesis (1994) and subsequent papers by Rees and

Wackernagel (1994, 1996) laid the foundations for the mathematical understanding

of the ecological footprint as the basic equations were formulated. As the ecological


Presentation of Ecological Footprint Information: A Re-examination


footprint concept grew popular, many researchers (including Rees and Wackernagel

themselves) began to refine the methodology behind footprint calculations. New

techniques such as time-slicing and regional measurements improved on the capabilities of the ecological footprint concept. With such a positive burst of ideas

with multiple trajectories, a re-examination of ecological footprint information

presentation would enhance the usefulness of the ecological footprint.

11.3 The Spatiality of the Ecological Footprint

Some of the earlier pieces of work defining the ecological footprint, by pioneers

Rees and Wackernagel, involved much spatial imagination. Phrases such as “180

times larger than its political area” (Rees and Wackernagel 1996: 233), “a modern city. . . enclosed in a glass or plastic hemisphere” (p. 227) and “the total land

area required to sustain an urban region” (Rees 1992: 121), were used constantly

in the description of ecological footprint. In essence, one of the main strengths (or

as some may suggest, the main purposes) of the ecological footprint is its role as

a “visually graphic tool” (Rees and Wackernagel 1996: 230), which accentuates

the physical limits of our planetary home (e.g. Fig. 11.1) as opposed to rendering

resources merely as another form of capital or as a carrying capacity.

Rees (1996, 2000) points out that the ecological footprint can be considered as

an “area-based analogue” or indicator of Ehrlich and Holdren’s I = PAT, where

impact on the environment (I) is held as a product of population (P), affluence (A),

and technology (T). However, many papers that employ the ecological footprint

concept fail to capitalize on this particular strength, leaving spatial visualization out

of the equation altogether. Among the studies that do take this into consideration,

presentation styles are varied and non-standardized (cf. Wackernagel et al. 1999 and

Chi and Stone 2005: Figs. 11.1 and 11.2).

11.3.1 The “Traditional” Ecological Footprint

Traditionally, ecological footprint calculations are conducted on the national-level

scale that aggregate the energy and resource footprint of an entire economy (e.g.

Austria: Haberl et al. 2001, Erb 2004; the Philippines and South Korea: Wackernagel

et al. 2004; Ireland: Lammers et al. 2008). Such approaches are often geared towards

the eventual output of per capita footprints (for the purpose of comparison between

countries) and are not always comprehensive in accounting for every possible component of the footprints etched by the economies, as highlighted by Rees and

Wackernagel (1996). The results are conclusive findings that allow for the attribution of “blame” in terms of identifying countries or regions “overshooting” their

allotted biocapacity.

Even as the above style of research provides normative force for steering certain

global and regional policies, the actual usefulness of the footprint figures within the

economies is hampered by the inherent generalizations. Questions such as, “which


H.-C. Chin and R.M. Li

Fig. 11.1 Footprint change in Houghton County, Michigan, 2001–2021. Note: In this study, the

authors used physical buffers from road networks to represent their footprint. The width of the

buffer is a summation of physical footprint and energy footprint (both in m2 ) over the actual length

of the roadway segment (m). Source: Chi and Stone (2005)

sector of the economy is contributing most to the footprint?”, “which policies will

lead to a smaller footprint?” remain unanswered. While sub-national areal footprint

studies such as on the municipal level (e.g. Scotti et al. 2009) or city level (e.g. Hu

et al. 2008) have become increasingly popular, non-spatial sub-national scales such


Presentation of Ecological Footprint Information: A Re-examination


Fig. 11.2 Visual presentation of the footprint of Sweden and the county of Malmohus. Source:

Wackernagel et al. (1999)

as sector-based approaches are limited in number due to the difficulty in portraying

sectors as spatial entities, and the incompatibility of using per capita figures.

11.3.2 Non-spatial Scales and the “Footprint” Metaphor

One of our proposed suggestions is to employ a secondary form of sub-national

ecological footprint calculation by a sectoral division of the economy within a

land resource budget. A few benefits associated with a sectoral budgetary approach

include: (a) the increased ownership of the “overshooting” problem, which translates to the ability to compare between sectors, as well as assesses sets of policies

that affect certain sectors; (b) a better defined system for footprint comparison across

countries rather than the inconsistent inclusion of variables from study to study; and

(c) a more specialized look at each particular sector, thereby increasing the accuracy

of the calculations. “Budget” is used here to further emphasize the limited nature of

available land resources.

Recalling from the earlier works of Rees and Wackernagel, one of the selling

points of the ecological footprint is its intuitiveness in the spatial measure shared by


H.-C. Chin and R.M. Li

laymen and scholars alike. However, to achieve such a goal of effectively presenting

footprints for a non-spatial scale of study, a method of spatializing these non-spatial

scales is necessary. Sector-based studies by Bicknell et al. (1998) and Herva et al.

(2008) are successful in developing ways to calculate the footprints of the sector,

yet more could be attained if these methods could lead to the presentation of a

“physical” imprint beyond merely presenting numbers.

11.4 Problems Associated with Current Presentation Methods

11.4.1 Single Aggregate Fp Value vs Multivariate Land Resource


Wackernagel et al. (1999) rightly pointed out the shortcomings of a single aggregate

FP value in their study on Sweden using data from 1994. Although the country had

an aggregate per capita ecological footprint or demand (~7.2 ha cap–1 ) that was

smaller than its productive per capita biocapacity (~8.2 ha cap–1 ), the figure did

not take into consideration the “striking mismatch” (610) of demand for specific

forms of biocapacity, or land types. The demand for fossil energy land for the case

study was a staggering 2.6 ha cap–1 , with no equivalent supply in the form of carbon

dioxide (CO2 ) absorption land or renewable energy.

The resultant problem was a misrepresentation of the actual scenario. Using the

analogy of a human needing nutrients, water and oxygen; the lack of any single

one of components of land resource types will spell disaster – an implicit problem

with the employment of aggregate values also pointed out by van den Bergh and

Verbruggen (1999). A single footprint value is undoubtedly useful in quick comparisons, yet more has to be done to ensure that information is not lost altogether in the

process of aggregation.

11.4.2 Ineffectiveness of Cartograms and Spatially-Dimensionless

Line or Area Graphs

Cartograms – maps drawn to exaggerate land area based on certain themes (in

this case Fp ) – have been used in selected studies (e.g. Wackernagel et al. 1999:

Fig. 11.1). Readers who encounter these exaggerated areal depictions of country

outlines may respond in shock due to the visual impact created. Yet, the usefulness of cartograms is limited by several factor such as: (a) the difficulty of readers

in estimating the actual scalar differences presented (gauging areal proportion is a

skill difficult to master, especially for irregular shapes); (b) the inability of readers

to extract any specific numerical figures; (c) the lack of any value in the created

shape or outline; (d) the difficulty in comparing between countries which have

significant differences in size, and (e) the need for cartographic skills to produce

the cartograms, not to mention the understanding (by both readers and authors) of

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