Funding Low Carbon Cities: Local perspectives on opportunities and risks

There are compelling reasons for policy makers to be interested in the low-carbon agenda. More than half of the world’s population lives in, and more than half of the world’s economic output comes from, cities. Up to 70% of global carbon emissions can also be attributed to consumption that takes place in cities. Recent research has shown that cost-effective investments in low-carbon options could deliver a 40% reduction in GHG emissions from cities by 2020, while also providing wider economic benefits such as enhanced competitiveness and increased employment. As yet, however, investments in low-carbon cities have not been made at scale due mainly to the scale of the finance required, local government budgetary constraints, and perceptions about their costs and benefits. With a focus on the UK, a contemporary account is provided of what local authorities see as the major financial risks associated with funding low-carbon cities. Practical proposals – which also have more general relevance to the future financing of low-carbon cities around the world – are offered on how local authorities, in conjunction with central government, the private sector, and institutional investors, can effectively manage these risks.

Sullivan R; Gouldson A; Webber P (2012), Climate Policy.