By 2050, emissions in cities could be slashed by 90% if policymakers and businesses adopt more low carbon measures and seize the opportunities presented by climate change.
This was the conclusion of a coalition of universities and organisations who have published a new report called Climate Emergency, Urban Opportunity, aimed at supporting national governments’ efforts to unlock the economic and social benefits of inclusive, sustainable cities.
The report argues that implementing low carbon measures in cities would be worth almost US$24tn by 2050 and would reduce emissions from cities by 90% using currently available technologies and practices whilst also delivering a significant economic return.
It says many of these 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 measures would cost $1.8 trillion (approximately 2% of global GDP) per year, which would generate annual returns worth $2.8 trillion in 2030, and $7.0 trillion in 2050 based on cost savings alone.
The report also says low carbon cities provide a higher standard of living for residents and better opportunities. It claims investments in low carbon measures in cities could support 87 million jobs by 2030.
Lord Nicholas Stern, IG Patel Professor of Economics and Government at the London School of Economics said: ‘Zero-carbon cities will offer countries a competitive advantage as they seek to attract global talent and investment. Countries that do not pursue the transition to zero-carbon cities, on the other hand, face staggering costs of inaction.
‘High carbon systems will become unprofitable or inoperable as markets and regulations evolve, and the result will be stranded assets and workers left behind as industries fail or relocate.’
António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations added: ‘This report shows how the right investments can build sustainable and liveable cities and communities that will help us achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
‘It is possible and realistic to realise net-zero urban emissions by 2050. But to get there, we will need the full engagement of city governments combined with national action and support.’
Read the report here
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