SEI Contact:

Peter Erickson

Telephone: +1 (206) 547 4000 x. 3#

Time-frame: 2013–2014

Low Carbon Cities - RD1

Rapidly increasing urbanization, especially in developing countries, uniquely positions cities to be leaders in climate change mitigation. The way that cities are built and rebuilt can dramatically determine the carbon footprints of their residents. For example, emissions from resident transportation currently range from over 6 tonnes CO2e per person (Denver) to less than 1 (Barcelona), a range that depends largely on differences in development and transportation infrastructure.

Cities can function as laboratories of policy action and cultivate the political support needed for more widespread adoption of low-carbon development paths at national and international levels. They also look to one another for support, policy guidance and templates, and virtuous competition. Networks such as ICLEI, C40 Cities, and associations of mayors in Europe and North America facilitate these interactions, document best practices, and stimulate greater ambition.

While many cities adopt ambitious emission reduction targets (e.g. 80% or greater reductions by 2050 ); these efforts general lack adequate research or common understanding of the city-scale policies with the greatest potential for long-term greenhouse gas abatement, much less the role of urban-scale abatement in global emission-reduction pathways, and how to successfully put needed policies in place. This project seeks to address this critical gap.