Low-carbon cities a $24 trillion opportunity

A new report urges national governments to get behind cities to tackle the climate crisis and boost their economies.

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Implementing low-carbon measures in cities could be worth almost $24 trillion by 2050 and could reduce emissions from cities by 90 per cent, according to a new report backed by 50 organisations.

 

The Climate Emergency, Urban Opportunity report, produced by the Coalition for Urban Transition, says the role of national governments is critical in achieving equitable and sustainable economic development in cities, which are home to over half the world’s population and which produce 80 per cent of gross domestic product and three-quarters of carbon emissions.

 

The Coalition includes research institutes, intergovernmental organisations, investors, infrastructure providers, strategic advisory companies, NGOs and city networks among its members.

 

Use what you’ve got

 

The Urban Opportunity report finds that low-carbon measures in cities could deliver over half of the emission reductions needed to keep global temperature rise below two degrees Celsius.

 

It concludes that it is possible to cut 90 per cent of emissions from cities using currently available technologies and practices – including carbon savings from buildings, transport, materials efficiency and waste – while also delivering a significant economic return.

 

Doing so would require an investment of $1.8 trillion, which could generate annual returns worth $2.8 trillion in 2030, and $7.0 trillion in 2050, based on cost savings alone.

 

The Coalition says that many low-carbon measures would pay for themselves in less than five years, including more efficient lighting, electric vehicles, improved freight logistics and solid waste management.

 

The Coalition says that many low-carbon measures would pay for themselves in less than five years.

 

The analysis suggests investments in low-carbon measures in cities could support 87 million jobs annually by 2030, at the same time as reducing air pollution, cutting traffic congestion and improving worker productivity.

 

Local governments have direct power over less than a third of the emissions reduction potential in their cities.

 

The report finds that local governments have direct power over less than a third of the emissions reduction potential in their cities, with national and state governments having power over a further third. More than a third depends on different levels of government working together to cut emissions, making the future of cities "a vital collaborative effort", the report says.

 

Brief window of opportunity

 

A statement from the Coalition for Urban Transition said: “Urban populations are growing fast, and trillions of dollars will be invested in urban infrastructure in the next decade.

 

"National governments must seize this brief window of opportunity, as decisions made about cities in the next decade will put countries on a path to prosperity and resilience – or decline and vulnerability.”

 

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