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The Economic and Social Benefits of Low-Carbon Cities: A Systematic Review of the Evidence

  • Author(s)/Creator(s):
    Andy Gouldson, Andrew Sudmant, Haneen Khreis, Effie Papargyropoulou
  • Publisher(s)/Producter(s):
    The New Climate Economy

Over half of the population of the world live in
urban areas. This means that efforts to meet human
development goals and sustain economic growth
must be concentrated in cities. However, the pursuit
of more prosperous, inclusive and sustainable urban
development is complicated by climate change, which
multiplies existing environmental risks, undermines the
effectiveness of existing infrastructure, and creates new
resource constraints.
In this paper, we conclusively demonstrate that there
are many synergies between aspirations for urban
development and the imperative for climate action. We
draw on over 700 papers, focusing on the literature on
low-carbon measures in the buildings, transport, and
waste sectors. This systematic review clearly shows that
low-carbon measures can help to achieve a range of
development priorities, such as job creation, improved
public health, social inclusion, and improved accessibility.
There is already strong evidence of an economic case
for climate action. The Stern Review: The Economics
of Climate Change demonstrated that the benefits
of strong and early action to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions far outweigh the economic costs of not acting.1
Subsequent research for the Global Commission on the
Economy and Climate demonstrated that low-carbon
measures could be economically attractive on their
own merits. One analysis suggested that low-carbon
investment in cities might have a net present value
of US$16.6 trillion by 2050.2 This economic case is
an important, but not sufficient, condition for deep

The New Climate Economy
Policy Quality
Waste management
Industry and Economy
Household and Residential