A new World Bank report entitled “Thriving: Making Cities Green, Resilient, and Inclusive in a Changing Climate” has argued that cities, which are home to more than half the world’s population and are responsible for around 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions, are at the heart of the climate challenge.
This report, based on data from more than 10,000 cities around the world, analyses the fundamental role of these cities in stopping climate change, reversing its negative effects and protecting people from its consequences, and improving the prosperity, health, and safety of these populations.
The report examines the contribution of these cities to climate change and the consequences for urban households and the increase in the intensity of meteorological phenomena such as droughts, floods, and cyclones.
The controversial revelation of the report is that although cities in low-income countries only contribute around 14% of total global urban CO2 emissions, it is these countries that suffer the negative consequences of gas emissions and are the most exposed to the most serious climate risks.
The international financial institution is therefore calling for cities in low-income countries to develop without following the historical emissions trajectories of cities in high-income countries, to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
Investment and innovation to green these cities are essential to avoid global GHG emissions remaining above the level required to limit global warming.
The World Bank’s Senior Managing Director for Development Policy and Partnerships, Axel van Trotsenburg, noted that “Cities are on the front line of the climate battle. By 2050, it is estimated that 70% of the world’s population will live in cities. This means that investments made today to make cities resilient and inclusive will determine whether most people will be able to access basic services, find a job and live in dignity”.
According to the report, there is an urgent need for cities to adopt integrated and green urban planning strategies that address these interrelated issues, in particular by investing in green spaces and sustainable infrastructure.