Researchers found that investing in 16 low-carbon measures in cities could cut global urban emissions by 90 per cent by 2050 and has a net present value of almost $24 trillionby Jake Wellman, Leah Lazer and Catlyne Haddaoui / September 20, 2019 / Leave a comment
The world is facing a climate emergency, forcing us all to rethink the best way to spend resources, create jobs and improve quality of life for all.
In these critical times, cities offer one of the biggest opportunities. With most of the world’s population, economic activity and carbon emissions concentrated in cities, it is becoming ever-more-clear that the fate of cities is the fate of the planet. Science tells us that the world must reach net-zero emissions by 2050 to keep global warming below 1.5°C.
A new report from the Coalition for Urban Transitions, Climate Emergency, Urban Opportunity, finds that low-carbon cities can reduce emissions while offering tremendous economic opportunities.
Researchers found that investing in 16 low-carbon measures in cities could cut global urban emissions by 90 per cent by 2050 and has a net present value of almost $24 trillion—equivalent to nearly one-third of the global GDP in 2018.
This means that between now and 2050, the total benefits of these investments will exceed their total costs by almost $24 trillion. Broken down by years, an average annual investment of $1.8 trillion (about 2 per cent of global GDP in 2018) would yield returns of $2.8 trillion per year by 2030, and $6.9 trillion per year by 2050.
Most of these returns are the result of cost savings from decreased energy use and improved energy efficiency, as well as decreasing the use of materials like cement and steel. For example, investments in making the vehicle fleet more electric and fuel-efficient would pay for themselves in as little as eight years because they would lower the cost of powering those vehicles. Retrofits to make buildings more energy-efficient would save money on heating and cooling bills long into the future.
Low carbon, high output
The bundle of investments considered in this analysis included low-carbon measures across residential and commercial buildings, passenger and freight transport, production and use of construction materials like steel and cement that are common in urban infrastructure, and the waste sector, which together would reduce urban emissions by 15.5 gigatonnes by 2050 (including decarbonizing electricity).
This is over 40 per cent of the total global emissions from fossil fuel energy sources in 2018. All of these investments are possible with…