Cities in climate change mitigation policy

Cities in climate change mitigation policy

The phenomenon of accelerated urbanization of emerging and developing economies is a potential source of harmful environmental impacts on people’s well-being. Major negative effects can especially be expected on the climate, possibly compromising, in the long run, large-scale local economic development. 

This is because the urban environment is characterized by a concentration of activities with high energy consumption (between 56 and 78% of final energy used is ascribable to transportation and buildings, as well as to industries and services). These activities, in addition to generating significant local pollution, are a large source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Due to divergent methods of calculation as well as to the perimeter of urban activities, there is uncertainty about the exact extent to which these activities contribute to GHG. Nonetheless, a strong increase in the overall impact of cities on climate change can be expected.

Based on an in-depth review of scientific and institutional literature, this document seeks to identify what urban measures contribute efficiently to low-carbon urban development. It focuses on the complementarity to be found between measures for structuring urban space and measures for changing individual behavior with regard to urban energy consumption (mainly in transportation and housing).

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