Resource-Efficient Urban Planning Helps Achieve Economic, Social, and Environmental Goals
A new report, "The Economic and Social Benefits of Low-Carbon Cities: A Systematic Review of the Evidence," by University of Leeds researchers for the New Climate Economy's Coalition for Urban Transitions, examines the economic case for climate action through more resource-efficient urban planning. This comprehensive review shows that low-carbon measures can help to achieve a range of development priorities, such as job creation, improved safety and public health, social inclusion, and improved accessibility.
- Congestion pricing has been found to reduce traffic, travel times, and congestion 10–30% (Section 2.2).
- Policies which promote liveable density have been shown to increase urban productivity by 3% for every doubling of urban density (Section 2.3.1).
- Public transport networks can reduce transport-related injuries by up to 80% (Section 2.1.5), create direct and indirect employment (Section 2.3.2), and improve public health (Sections 2.2.1, 2.2.2, and 2.1.4).
- Health benefits from dedicated cycle lanes vary from €0.30-1.20 per km (Section 2.1.4).
- Pedestrianisation produces health benefits several times larger than cost of investments (Section 2.1.4).
This evidence suggests that the benefits of these low-carbon measures extend far beyond emission reductions. The wider economic, social, and environmental impacts may be much more valuable than the financial returns associated with climate action. This bundle of measures could therefore provide a platform for more transformative change by building public enthusiasm for low-carbon urban development, as well as the institutional capacities, financing arrangements, and learning needed for more ambitious action.