Growing Green Cities

Urban areas already account for up to 70% of global CO2 emissions, and that share is likely to increase in the coming decades, as more people – billions more – move to cities, and as urbanization drives global economic growth. From the standpoint of both climate change and growth, this represents a challenge and an opportunity.

MUNICH – The future of the world’s climate will be decided in our cities. Urban areas already account for up to 70% of global CO2 emissions, and that share is likely to increase in the coming decades, as more people – billions more – move to cities, and as urbanization drives global economic growth. From the standpoint of both climate change and growth, the rise of cities represents a challenge and an opportunity.

The nexus between urban expansion and climate protection is infrastructure. Upgrading urban infrastructure can drive economic growth and reduce carbon emissions at the same time. But how will the world’s cities pay for new and greener infrastructure?

The good news is that mayors – in developed and developing countries alike – are no longer waiting for national governments to strike a global climate agreement. Not only Copenhagen, London, and Munich, but also Johannesburg, Rio de Janeiro, and Shanghai are drawing up their own environmental programs. Such plans are variously ambitious – ranging from wish lists to enforceable targets – but the trend toward sustainable urban living is clear.

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