Urban populations are projected to dramatically increase across all continents.

Our future is urban. Today, over half of all people on earth live in urban areas. By 2060, total world population is expected to increase by about 2.7 billion people. At the same time, world urban population is expected to increase by 2.8 billion people, or cities worldwide are, and will be adding about 1.5 million people every week for the foreseeable future.

In order to support this urban migration and population growth, global building sector floor area is projected to increase by about 230 billion m2 by 2060, or double the current worldwide building stock. 

As populations shift, so do their environmental impacts. Most of the new development worldwide is expected to take place in countries that lack mandatory or adequate building energy codes:

Which countries have building energy codes, and where will new building floor area growth take place?

Cities are responsible for the majority of global emissions.

Globally, cities are responsible for more than 66% of total world energy consumption and more than 70% of energy-related CO2 emissions. This is expected to increase as populations urbanize, further centralizing climatic and social issues related to providing energy and materials to meet global growth demands.

Cities are the epicenters of climate solutions.

The global movement towards cities presents an extraordinary opportunity. Cities represent over 80% of global GDP, serving as hubs of economic growth and innovation. Cities have also demonstrated the ability to act more rapidly than national governments to confront environmental issues, as demonstrated by their ability to rapidly rebuild following natural disasters and to craft impactful policies that address evolving social issues.

Cities and sub-national governments have employed their capacity for adaptation to call for swift climate action. As of 2018, 9,261 cities, representing over 800 million people worldwide and 10.5% of total global population have committed to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy.3 If fully implemented, these commitments could achieve an annual reduction of 1.4 Gt CO2e in 2030 and 2.8 Gt CO2e in 2050. These goals are now being translated to specific targets for buildings, transportation, and industry, with new policies emerging in each sector.

Achieving Zero focuses on cities and sub-national governments due to their direct impact on emissions and their position as leaders in climate action.

The program provides a consistent, targeted framework focusing on long-term impact, allowing public and private stakeholders to align and integrate disparate decarbonization initiatives.

[1] UN Environment, Global Status Report 2017
[2] IEA, 2016. Energy Technology Perspectives 2016.
[3] Global Covenant of Mayors

Cities took early leadership and built partnerships for climate action.

364 U.S. mayors representing over 66 million Americans, including the 10 largest cities, committed to uphold the Paris Agreement goals by working together on local climate action and binding GHG reduction targets.

An international urban climate leadership group of 90 cities — representing over 650 million people – that formed in 2005 to collectively share technical and financial resources for cities to lead on climate action.

A global alliance of over 7,400 cities and local governments that have pledged to track and reduce GHG emissions.

A collaboration of 20 international cities committed to aggressive long-term goals of at least 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 (80×50).

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