In 2020, some 56% of the world’s people lived in cities, a proportion that is expected to keep increasing in coming years.

The United Nations reports that cities use 78% of the world’s energy and produce more than 60% of its greenhouse gas emissions. So what happens there matters greatly to everybody’s future. Fortunately, lots is going on of note across the planet’s cities. These stories offer a sampling of promising initiatives large and small. On view: human creativity and energy, some ways varying local conditions matter, and how complexities increase along with the scale of projects.

Very large projects:

Copenhagen Wants to Show How Cities Can Fight Climate Change” (Somini Sengupta, NYT, 2019)

Miami’s sea level rise bill is $4 billion by 2060. It won’t keep every neighborhood dry” (Alex Harris, Miami Herald, 2021)

Mexico City is proposing to build one of the world’s largest urban parks. Will it serve as a climate adaptation example for other cities?” (Paul Biasco, Ensia, 2020):

For a look at an imagined future rather than at current projects, “Kim Stanley Robinson on Cities as a Climate Survival Mechanism” (Bloomberg, 2021). Robinson’s novel New York 2140 envisions such a future.

Smaller scale projects:

Focus on Housing and Jobs or the Climate Fight ‘Goes Nowhere’” (Geoff Dembicki, The Tyee, 2020). About Brooklyn.

Prize for Cities (World Resources Institute), winners for 2020-21. Click on the hexagons for descriptions of the winning projects.

Renewables in Cities: 2021 Global Status Report (REN21). Overview with examples.

Resources from C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group: case studies; Facebook posts; and the 2020 annual report. But also this critique (Patrick Sisson, Curbed, 2019) of the way C40 measures emissions.


This series is curated and written by retired Colorado State University English professor and close climate change watcher SueEllen Campbell of Colorado. To flag works you think warrant attention, send an e-mail to her any time. Let us hear from you.

SueEllen Campbell

SueEllen created and for over a decade curated the website "100 Views of Climate Change," a multidisciplinary collection of pieces accessible to interested non-specialists. She is especially interested...