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BRIEF

Low-Carbon, Livable Cities

March 2, 2014

Low-carbon development is a priority for the World Bank, and cities are the natural place to start. Cites account for two-thirds of the world’s overall energy consumption and contribute an estimated 70 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. If just 100 of the world’s largest cities embark on a low-carbon development path, global greenhouse gas emissions could decrease by an estimated 10 percent a year. 

The World Bank works in partnership with cities to help integrate low-carbon development into their growth.  One of the main ways is through the Low-Carbon, Livable Cities Initiative, which helps rapidly-growing cities plan for smart, sustainable, green, and inclusive growth. Working with our partners  –  the Clinton Global Initiative, C40, the Rockefeller Foundation, and others  –  the initiative focuses on:

  • Planning: With diagnostics such as greenhouse gas inventories, tools to evaluate the emission reduction potential of different investments, and standardized climate-smart investment at the city level, municipal officials are better equipped to put their cities on a low carbon trajectory.
  • Financing: We work to get finance flowing to cities so they can implement low-carbon development plans. Leveraging the Bank’s experience with innovative financing, we’re developing new financing instruments for low-carbon investments at the city level, and creating pooled delivery mechanisms to attract private capital. We’re also working with local authorities to help them become “creditworthy” and raise their credit ratings.

The Low-Carbon, Livable Cities initiative draws on the World Bank’s experience with cities such as Rio de Janeiro, which is in the process of implementing a major, city-level program to realize its goals for low-carbon development. Certified according to ISO standards, the Rio de Janeiro Low Carbon City Development Program helps the city plan, implement, monitor, and account for low carbon investments and climate change mitigation actions across sectors.

The Rio program helps identify and finance climate change mitigation across a number of urban sectors, and provides the framework to process, quantify and mobilize emissions reductions.

The program is city-led, implemented during a time when municipalities play an increasingly important role in climate change. Many of the concrete steps toward sustainable development can and must be taken by municipal governments – for example, efficient and adaptive building standards, public transportation, “smart” power grids or flood protection.

This makes the Rio de Janeiro Low-Carbon City Development a pioneering business model that can be disseminated to other cities throughout the world.