How mega-cities could lead the fight against climate change

By 2035, the world will have 14 more mega-cities, according to the United Nations. Most of the new ones will develop in Africa and Asia. The concentration of wealth and technology in metropolitan areas means cities around the world could lead the way in tackling climate change.


Population data for 2020 and 2035 are from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population division (2019). Global Urbanization Outlook: The 2018 Revision.

Per capita carbon footprint data is from Moran, D., Kanemoto K; Jiborn, M., Wood, R., Többen, J., and Seto, KC (2018) Carbon footprints of 13,000 cities. Environmental research letters DOI: 10.1088 / 1748-9326 / aac72a.

We found each city’s global carbon footprint by multiplying the per capita carbon footprint data from Moran et al. by demographic data provided by the United Nations.

When interpreting the results, please keep in mind the limitations of these studies and methods; the figures are not perfectly precise but allow us to identify and analyze trends.

Photo credits: Getty (NYC, High Line, Shenzhen); Alamy (Kinshasa); Shutterstock (Osaka)

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