Cities could save $17 trillion by 2050 and reduce their greenhouse emissions by more than the annual carbon pollution of Japan and Russia combined by investing in climate-smart strategies like public transit development and energy efficiency, according to the latest study by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.
“By making just those low-carbon investments which are economically attractive based on energy savings alone, leaders in the world’s cities could deliver 15 to 20% of the greenhouse gas emission reductions needed to put the world on a climate safe pathway,” the Commission’s Nick Godfrey writes in a post for the World Resources Institute. But “while the report shows that many cities worldwide are already demonstrating leadership, realizing the full potential of the low-carbon opportunities available in cities will require the help of global partnerships to go further and faster.”
Only 30 of the world’s 150 largest cities “have even the most basic analytics needed for low-carbon planning, and too few have created long-term plans and targets,” Godfrey notes. And cities in developing countries face “significant capacity, financing, and other barriers to scaling up action. National and sub-national governments and international organizations need to work together with cities to overcome the barriers to action and unlock the financing mechanisms necessary for smarter urban growth.”
The Commission concludes that a US$1 billion investment over the next five years would get the world’s 500 largest cities on a path to low-carbon strategy development, “directly mobilize $5-10 billion of private sector funding, and leverage far more over time.”