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. 




Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of this century. World greenhouse gas emissions (greenhouse gas) have roughly doubled since the early 1970s, reaching about 42 gigatons CO2 equivalent (Gt CO2eq) in 2005 (IEA, 2009). Recent OECD and IEA work suggests that if we continue on the present high emission trajectory, global greenhouse gas emissions will increase by more than 50% by mid-century, causing world mean temperatures to rise 4 to 6° Celsius (°C) above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century and more in the long term (OECD, 2009; IEA, 2009). In addition, the planet’s natural system to absorb carbon will peak by mid-century and then likely weaken, possibly making climate change much more acute (IPCC, 2007a).


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