Low-Carbon Measures in Cities Could Reduce Urban Emissions by Nearly 90% – Report

The report titled Climate Emergency, Urban Opportunity from the Coalition for Urban Transitions finds that implementing low-carbon measures in cities would be worth almost USD 24 trillion by 2050.

Governments that invest in low-carbon cities can enhance economic prosperity, make cities better places to live and rapidly reduce carbon emissions, says a recent report from a global initiative to support national governments to accelerate economic development and tackle dangerous climate change by transforming cities.

The report titled Climate Emergency, Urban Opportunity from the Coalition for Urban Transitions finds that implementing low-carbon measures in cities would be worth almost USD 24 trillion by 2050 and could reduce emissions from cities by 90%.

This report examines the role of national governments in achieving equitable and sustainable economic development in cities, which are home to over half the world’s population and which produce 80% of gross domestic product and three-quarters of carbon emissions.

“Cities are engines of growth, innovation and prosperity,” António Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, said in a statement.

“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 realize 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.”

Rapid urbanisation and the increasing pressure on cities is an issue which India too faces with stories of near Day Zero water situation, extreme heat and then extreme rainfall have inconvenienced residents and hampered their quality of life.

With growing pressure and challenges to its natural resources, governments need to actively look at solutions to reduce emissions, rising temperatures, traffic congestions, air and water pollution and make available a basic standard of life. The report said that investments in low-carbon measures in cities could support 87 million jobs annually by 2030.

Implementing low-carbon measures in cities could deliver over half of the emission reductions needed to keep global temperature rise below two degrees Celsius. The need for a zero-carbon urban transition is immediate, and the costs of inaction could be devastating. Over ten percent of the world’s population, 820 million people, live in coastal zones prone to sea level rise, and 86 percent of them live in urban or quasi-urban areas, the report said.

This report also presents six key priorities for actions that national governments can take to seize this opportunity:

1. Develop an overarching strategy to deliver shared prosperity while reaching net-zero emissions – and place cities at its heart, which can guide all line ministries to incorporate urban development into their approach, de-risk low-carbon investment by providing clear signals to private actors, and empower local governments to go farther and faster.
2. Align national policies behind compact, connected, clean cities. Examples include removing land use and building regulations that limit higher, liveable density; banning the sale of fossil fuel-powered vehicles; and adopting green alternatives to steel and cement.
3. Fund and finance sustainable urban infrastructure. Examples include eliminating subsidies for fossil fuels and establishing a carbon price of USD 50–100 per tonne to sharpen investment incentives; reforming land and property taxes; and shifting national transport budgets from road-building to public and active transport.
4. Coordinate and support local climate action in cities. Examples include authorising local governments to introduce climate policies and plans that are more ambitious than national policies; and allocating at least one third of national R&D budgets to support cities’ climate priorities.
5. Build a multilateral system that fosters inclusive, zero-carbon cities. Examples include placing cities at the heart of enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions in 2020 and 2025 and ensuring that all international development assistance is aligned with national urban strategies compatible with the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
6. Proactively plan for a just urban transition. Examples include using revenues from carbon taxes or fossil fuel subsidy reform to compensate those who bear the costs of climate action; supporting community-led upgrading of informal settlements to reduce poverty and enhance climate resilience; and anticipating, protecting and supporting the workforce of the future, including by developing transition plans for fossil fuel-based workers and industries.

Click here to read the full report.

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Anirban Roy

Anirban Roy

Anirban has been a journalist all his working life, having worked with leading global media brands for most of this time. He has a strong interest in sustainability too, and is an occasional writer for IamRenew.

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