Zero-Carbon Cities Could Be Worth $24 Trillion, Report Says
A new report finds that if cities worldwide transitioned to zero-carbon, the worldwide benefits would be enormous: nearly $24 trillion in economic returns, millions of jobs, and better health.
The Coalition for Urban Transitions studied the costs of already proven technologies that reduce greenhouse gases — from everything as simple as increasing the use of of public transit and cycling to switching to renewable energies — and found that the cost of reducing cities’ emissions by 90 percent would be around $2 trillion per year. That’s not nothing, but it’s also only about 2 percent of global GDP, and by 2030 would generate savings of $2.8 trillion a year, growing to $7 trillion a year by 2050. This figure includes economic savings only — for example if a city saves on its power bills by switching to a cheaper form of renewable energy — and doesn’t include cost savings from citizens’ better health and other related outcomes.
Such a program would also generate jobs, the report found. By 2030, 87 million jobs would be created, mostly in the building sector, and by 2050, an additional 45 million jobs, mostly in transportation, would be created.
Large cities, those with populations over 5 million, have a fifth of the world’s “abatement potential” — as in, they could collectively reduce urban CO2 emissions by one-fifth. But the biggest opportunity would be in small cities, with populations under 750,000, the report said, since they make up fully half of the world’s urban emissions. Smaller cities are usually under-resourced to make big changes, so states and nations will need to step in to fund the changes, the report said.
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