Cities and Climate Change

image of Cities and Climate Change

As the hubs of economic activity, cities drive the vast majority of the world’s energy use and are major contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions. Because they are home to major infrastructure and highly concentrated populations, cities are also vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels, warmer temperatures and fiercer storms. At the same time, better urban planning and policies can reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions and improve the resilience of urban infrastructure to climate change, thus shaping future trends.  

This book shows how city and metropolitan regional governments working in tandem with national governments can change the way we think about responding to climate change. The chapters analyse: trends in urbanisation, economic growth, energy use and climate change; the economic benefits of climate action; the role of urban policies in reducing energy demand, improving resilience to climate change and complementing global climate policies; frameworks for multilevel governance of climate change including engagement with relevant stakeholders; and the contribution of cities to “green growth”, including the “greening” of fiscal policies, innovation and jobs. The book also explores policy tools and best practices from both OECD and some non-member countries.  

Cities and Climate Change reveals the importance of addressing climate change across all levels of government. Local involvement through “climate-conscious” urban planning and management can help achieve national climate goals and minimise tradeoffs between environmental and economic priorities at local levels. The book will be relevant to policy makers, researchers, and others with an interest in learning more about urbanisation and climate change policy. 



Executive Summary

Roughly half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and this share is increasing over time, projected to reach 60% by 2030. Cities consume a great majority – between 60 to 80% – of energy production worldwide and account for a roughly equivalent share of global CO2 emissions. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in OECD cities are increasingly driven less by industrial activities and more by the energy services required for lighting, heating and cooling, electronics use, and transport mobility. Cities can in principle use energy in a more efficient way than more dispersed areas because of reduced costs and economies of scale, however this depends on urban design and form. Growing urbanisation will lead to a significant increase in energy use and CO2 emissions, particularly in non-OECD countries in Asia and Africa where urban energy use is shifting from CO2-neutral energy sources such as biomass and waste to CO2-intensive energy sources.


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