Cities located in developing countries would account for 86 percent of these energy savings through changes in building patterns and development intensity, including strategies that promote short commutes, public transportation, and a mix of land uses.
The study was led by Felix Creutzig
, head of the Land Use, Infrastructures and Transport working group at the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) in Germany. Other co-authors included researchers at the University of Maryland and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Read the press release
“We know that the growth of cities in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East is enormous and is happening fast, and this is having a huge impact on global emissions,” said Seto, a professor of urbanization and geography at F&ES. “But this paper illustrates that there is a window of opportunity to affect how these cities develop and save emissions.
“A key take home message is that different types of cities need different mitigation policies to maximize their impact,” she said. “For example, in rapidly growing cities like Changsha, China and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, the infrastructure is still nascent and many opportunities exist to shape urban form.”
But opportunities for mitigation also exist in mature or established cities, she said. In the U.S., for example, researchers found that higher fuel prices would enable more compact development in cities like Boulder, Colo. And in Hamburg, Germany, they suggest that energy savings can be achieved by connecting low-density development to city centers through public transportation and bike paths.
“This paper marks important progress as we now gained insights on what mitigation measures are best for different kinds of cities,” said Creutzig, the lead author. “The mitigation potential is greatest in rapidly growing cities and in cities where infrastructure is not set in place and those with low gasoline prices.”