A view of the City of Tshwane, from Freedom Park, the city could be one of the emerging-market cities to attract climate-related investments over the next decade. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
A view of the City of Tshwane, from Freedom Park, the city could be one of the emerging-market cities to attract climate-related investments over the next decade. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Kuala Lumpur — Cities in emerging markets could attract $29-trillion in climate-related investments like green buildings and electric vehicles over the next decade, the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC) said on Thursday.

Researchers looked at climate action plans of cities with more than 500,000 people, focusing on six sectors: green buildings, public transport, electric vehicles, waste management, water treatment and renewable energy.

"Getting the cities right is absolutely essential for climate," said Alzbeta Klein, the IFC's director for climate business. "They play a role in how climate looks and how it defines for the next generation ahead of us."

More than half the global population lives in urban areas, according to the IFC. Cities consume more than two-thirds of the world's energy, and account for more than 70% of all carbon dioxide emissions.

Green investments, targets and policies in cities will be crucial if countries are to meet the emissions reduction targets endorsed by governments for the 2015 Paris Agreement to curb climate change.

Green building codes, which include reducing energy consumption, will account for $24.7-trillion of climate investment opportunities in cities by 2030, the report said. Low-carbon transportation such as energy-efficient public transport could attract $1-trillion during the same period, while electric vehicles could see $1.6-trillion in investments.

Clean energy could bring $842bn of investments, while water may attract $1-trillion, and waste management $200bn.

Over half of the total estimated investment potential will be needed in East Asian and Pacific cities as they grow and spend on real estate, infrastructure and transport, said Aditi Maheshwari, lead author of the study.

"Cities are driving economic growth in East Asia and the Pacific — they account for over 80% of GDP in most countries," Maheshwari told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"The scale of this economic opportunity is drawing people into the cities and we anticipate an additional 1.2-billion people will live in Asian cities in the next 35 years."

The rate of change in China is likely to account for a significant portion of climate-related investments in the region, she added.

For cities to attract investment and create a pipeline of bankable projects, they need the ability to borrow money and develop innovative methods like green bonds and public-private partnerships, Klein said.

On Wednesday, C40 Cities, a network of cities pushing climate action, announced that nine cities would be given specialist support to develop sustainable infrastructure projects over the next two years.

The cities —  which include Bogota in Colombia, Tshwane in SA and Quezon City in the Philippines — will get help from national and international experts to prepare financially sound business proposals for projects.

Projects will include bike-sharing, cycle lanes, waste water treatment and rooftop solar energy, the C40 statement said.

Thomson Reuters Foundation