The slogan for the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, China captures the important role being attributed to the urban dimension of contemporary societies: ëBetter City, Better Lifeí. While one could argue that this oversimplifies reality, it does allude to the scale and importance of urbanization across the globe: today, approximately half of the worldís population lives in cities; by 2050, the figure will probably be two-thirds. As key engines of the global economy, cities are responsible for the bulk of national output, innovation and employment, and they are strategic gateways of transnational capital flows and global supply chains (OECD, 2006). It is not surprising that cities consume a preponderanceñbetween 60 and 80 per centñof energy production worldwide and account for a roughly equal share of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. All projections indicate that this trend will continue as urban populations grow. The World Expo slogan could also be adapted to describe the proactive role of cities in action against climate change and facilitating the worldís transition towards a greener economy: ëBetter Cities, Better Planetí. How cities grow in the coming decadesñtheir activities and their urban formñwill have a considerable impact on both environmental quality and national competitiveness. By 2030, according to the International Energy Agency (OECD/IEA, 2008), cities will account for 87 per cent of the energy consumption in the United States, up from 80 per cent in 2006.
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