Decarbonizing cities by improving public transport and managing land use and traffic

Urban transport is a significant contributor to climate-warming greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in cities, with most urban transport emissions coming from cars. More than seventy percent of global carbon dioxide emissions come from cities, making mitigation efforts at the local level an important contributor to decarbonization. Urban transport also plays a fundamental role in the economic activity and welfare of urban citizens. Therefore, developing cities must find a way to continue to improve accessibility, while decoupling growth in travel demand from growth in GHG emissions. Affordable, safe, and convenient urban passenger mobility systems are critical for the welfare of urban residents, connecting people to jobs, education, health care, and recreation. This paper argues that cities in developing countries have a unique opportunity to preserve and encourage sustainable urban passenger mobility by building on their existing modal shares in public transport, walking, and biking the low carbon modes. Section 2 of this paper provides additional detail on key mobility and land use challenges that developing cities are facing. Section 3 outlines strategies to overcome the challenges. Section 4 summarizes the high-level takeaways and suggests a way forward for the international community to support city governments in providing better transport infrastructure, services, and enabling environments to ensure their long-term financial and environmental sustainability.