Super Cities №103 - Why Cities Are The Future

Brendan Hart

One Big Thing

The future will be won in cities

“Over half of the population of the world live in urban areas. This means that efforts to meet human development goals and sustain economic growth must be concentrated in cities.”

Hart’s Comment

Capital’s big idea is that cities — as markets, sectors, and organizing units — will be transformed over the next fifty years.

Around the world: trillions of dollars, billions of people, and millions of products. The most significant economic opportunity of our lifetimes.

And we are working hard to lead it. We want to build a generation of companies that significantly improves sustainable commerce, security, and human-machine intelligence in cities around the world. Each category below represents a company that is waiting to be built.

Some of the study’s key findings:

Low-carbon investments in the world’s cities could generate energy savings worth over USD 17 trillion by mid-century.

Investing in city cycling infrastructure can save five times the cost of the investment by improving public health and reducing traffic congestion. Extrapolating across Europe, the health benefits from cycling could be worth 35–136 billion US dollars annually.

Directing investment to make new and existing buildings in cities energy efficient could create up to 16 million additional jobs a year worldwide.

Home and Work Environments
Improved working and home environments would lower rates of illness, saving on health bills and making workers up to 16 percent.

Currently, the cost of transport externalities is very high, especially in rapidly developing urban areas. For example, the costs of motorisedtransport’s congestion, air pollution, motor vehicle crashes, noise, and climate change in Beijing are between 7.5% and 15.0% of its GDP.

The transport sector accounted for 23% of global GHG emissions in 2010 and remains one of the fastest growing sources of global emissions, despite advances in vehicle efficiency.

In Sao Paulo, Brazil, for example, daily traffic jams reaching more than 350 km are estimated to cost US$120 billion each year in lost work hours, increased fuel consumption, and traffic accidents, which is nearly 8% of urban GDP, and in Beijing, China, congestion has been estimated to cost as much as 5.3% of GDP.

In Vancouver, Canada, for example, the loss of agglomeration economies due to congestion has been valued at between US$500 and US$1.2 billion; in Toronto, Canada, losses have been estimated at US$2.7 billion; and in New York, losses are estimated at US$4 billion.