Investing in zero-carbon cities will return $24 trillion by 2050, report finds

(EurActiv, 19 Sep 2019) By investing $1.83 trillion – about 2% of global GDP – per year in cutting urban emissions, governments would generate annual returns worth trillions more, according to new research published on Thursday (19 September).

The energy cost savings alone would amount to $2.80 trillion annually by 2030 and $6.98 trillion by 2050, according to the three-year research project led by a group of 50 international institutions under the ‘Coalition for Urban Transition’.

When cumulated over time, these savings amount to $24 trillion by 2050, the research found. And this estimate is conservative, the report adds, saying the figures do not include wider benefits, such as long-run productivity gains or improved public health.

“With higher energy prices and faster technological learning rates, the net present value of these investments rises to $38.19 trillion,” the report says.

Overall emissions in cities could be cut nearly 90% by 2050, it adds, if low-carbon measures are deployed in the building, transport, materials, and waste sectors.

“In absolute terms, these savings are greater than the combined 2014 energy-related emissions of the two largest emitters, China and the US,” says the report, which calls on national governments to prioritise compact, connected and clean cities in order to secure economic prosperity and tackle the climate crisis.

Entitled ‘Climate Emergency, Urban Opportunity: How national governments can secure economic prosperity and avert climate catastrophe by transforming cities’, the report is  being released ahead of the Climate Action Summit convened in New York by the United Nations Secretary-General.

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EurActiv, 19 Sep 2019: Investing in zero-carbon cities will return $24 trillion by 2050, report finds