Low Carbon Cities

Decarbonization Avenue : Low Carbon Cities

About 55% of the global population live in cities. For some countries this could be a lot higher - it is about 83% for the United States. 

Not surprisingly, cities use a large proportion of the world’s energy supply, and are responsible for around 70% of global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.

So cities are the real hubs of greenhouse gas emissions. But this challenge could also be the opportunity. Because of the way they are organized, and the resulting efficiencies possible on many dimensions, cities can often act faster and more efficiently to decrease emissions compared to rural regions, wider regions or nations as a whole.

Unlike specific decarbonization avenues such as solar or waste management, cities are not exactly an avenue for decarbonization, but present an ecosystem in which many of the avenues can be implemented for emissions reduction. A transition to low carbon cities thus requires not just core technologies, support solutions and financing, they also require a large dose of policy support and support from multiple stakeholder groups that comprise the city’s population.

While decarbonization of cities will require use of many different decarbonization avenues, and focus on multiple sectors, some of the more prominent sectors would be buildings and construction, other city infrastructure, transportation, heating & cooling systems and electricity supply.

An integrated approach that includes all of the above sectors is needed to fully decarbonize cities.

Decarbonization potential

Decarbonization of cities will involve the use of avenues that can reduce CO2 emissions from diverse sources and activities - use of energy in buildings, transport, food and material waste and more.

There are two reasons why cities should be considered as a special ecosystem while planning for decarbonization. One, cities represent concentrated sources of CO2 emissions that lend themselves to ease of access of implementation of decarbonization measures. Two, cities across the world share many common characteristics in energy and resource utilization, and in the systems, technologies and solutions used for these. The decarbonization success template in one city can thus be easily applied to many other cities in that country or even outside of that country.

Industries impacted

  • Construction & real estate
  • Environmental services
  • Financial services
  • Logistics
  • Power
  • Rail transport Retail
  • Road transport
  • Trading & distribution
  • Waste management
  • Water

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Themes & Topics

  • Low carbon transport

    • Mass transit

    • Electric mobility

    • Last mile

    • Transport infrastructure

  • Low carbon buildings

    • Residential buildings

    • Commercial buildings

    • Industrial buildings

  • Low carbon industries

    • Industrial estates

  • Low carbon power

    • Thermal power

    • Renewable energy

    • Distributed energy

  • Low carbon lifestyle enablers

    • Awareness creation

    • Low carbon communities

    • Contests and competitions

  • Low carbon infrastructure

    • Roads

    • Parks

    • For walking & bicycling

  • Water

    • Wastewater

    • Storm water

    • Rainwater harvesting

    • Lakes & ponds

  • Waste management

    • MSW management

    • Commercial & industrial waste management

    • E-waste management

  • Biodiversity

    • Parks

    • Other biodiversity hotspots









  • Low carbon capacity building

    • For government employees

    • For home makers

    • For small businesses

  • Collaboration

    • Regional

    • National

    • International

    • Corporate - municipality collaborations

    • Corporate - citizen collaborations

    • Citizen - municipality collaborations

    • Municipality- academia collaborations

  • Use of IT & digital tools

    • Cloud & online platforms

    • AI/Big Data/ML

    • Analytics

    • Digital twins

  • Policies

    • Targets

    • Mandates

    • Incentives

  • Accelerators

    • Contests & competitions

  • Financing

    • Public finance

    • Multilateral finance

  • Regional trends

    • North America

    • South America

    • Europe

    • Asia

    • Middle East & Africa

    • Oceania