Research from the New Climate Economy has found that investing in public and low emission transport, building efficiency and waste management in cities could generate savings of $17 trillion (£11 trillion) by 2050.
These low-carbon investments could also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3.7 Gt CO2e by 2030, which is more than the current annual emissions of India.
With complementary national policies such as support for low carbon innovation, reduced fossil fuel subsidies and carbon pricing, the savings could be as high as $22 trillion.
The UN secretary-general’s special envoy for cities and climate change Michael R. Bloomberg said: “The steps that cities take to shrink their carbon footprints also reduce their energy costs, improve public health, and help them attract new residents and businesses.
“This report can help accelerate the progress cities are making in all these areas, by highlighting smart policies and encouraging cooperation through efforts like the Compact of Mayors.”
The Compact of Mayors is a global coalition of mayors and city officials that have pledged to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions, enhance resilience to climate change, and to track their progress transparently.
In the report, Accelerating Low-Carbon Development in the World’s Cities, it suggested that to get economic and carbon savings from recycling, a target of 80% recycling would be needed worldwide by 2050.
The report recommends that national governments should empower cities by introducing legislation to support and incentivise the adoption of emission reduction targets and/or low emission development strategies.
National governments should also develop national urbanisation strategies in conjunction with city governments, overseen by a high-level executive authority and/or the Ministry of Finance with cross-departmental representation to enable integrated planning and assigned budgets to ensure adequate resourcing.
Local authorities should also be given enhanced powers where necessary by national governments to enable investment in low-carbon infrastructure.
The New Climate Economy is the flagship project of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate that was established by seven countries: Colombia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Norway, South Korea, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
It is an independent initiative to examine how countries can achieve economic growth while dealing with the risks posed by climate change.