Report Findings Could Shape Cities' Energy Efficiency Strategies

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A newly published report underlines how being energy conscious needn't cost the earth, concluding that cities could make a significant contribution to cutting greenhouse gas emissions at zero net cost.

Phys.org reports that the findings from the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the University of Leeds and London School of Economics and Political Science show that a number of cost-effective, low-carbon developments could cut global energy-related emissions by more than a third.

The study of the cities of Leeds (England), Kolkata (India), Lima (Peru), Johor Bahru (Malaysia) and Palembang (Indonesia) found that return on investment of these developments is significant, with a payback period of just two years.

It explains how, once the payback period has elapsed, the developments would continue to provide the investor with savings and suggested the returns could be set aside for other low-carbon developments in the city.

Lead author Professor Andrew Gouldson of the University of Bristol says that a low-carbon economy is a "no-brainer" from both a financial point of view and an environmental one.

"By implementing a handful of quick-fixes, cities could deliver carbon savings of up to 34% of global energy-related emissions at no net cost. City councils and investors have everything to gain from investing in a low-carbon future," he explained.

The report highlights Leeds as an example of how investors could benefit from measures such as energy management software. It points out that a low-carbon investment of £1.1 billion in the city's domestic sector would create savings of £400 million each year, paying back investment within three years and saving billions in the future.

As such, the report states: "This indicates that climate mitigation ought to feature prominently in economic development strategies as well as in the environment and sustainability strategies that are often more peripheral to, and less influential in, city-scale decision-making."

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