Road junction with traffic lights at night in Chonquing, China (photo)
Urban populations will increase
most in China, India and Nigeria.
Above is Chongqing, China.

Cities are a primary focus for Shell’s work on future scenarios in the global energy system and environment, as they are where the most energy is consumed. By working with authorities and planners in some of the world’s largest cities, we are able to explore new ways of energy use and new technologies and systems to create better resilience and minimise emissions.

By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population could be living in cities according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Urban populations will increase most in China, India and Nigeria – accounting for 37% of the projected growth of the world’s urban population between 2014 and 2050.

Today, the majority of global CO2 emissions comes from cities, even though urban areas only occupy around 3% of the earth’s total land surface. In 2014, Shell published its New Lenses on Future Cities, which explores the energy resource implications of urbanisation. It states that cities consume 66% of the world’s total energy. Therefore, as smaller and medium-sized cities grow, local governments and authorities face the challenge of maintaining a quality of life for the people who live there, while addressing resource challenges and pollution.

Shell’s work with governments, businesses and civil society is helping us to better understand how cities develop, and their impact on energy supply and demand. We are conducting studies to determine how cities can adapt to the increasing pressure on their resources and systems. We are also trying to understand how the rapid growth of certain cities will impact infrastructure and energy requirements: these studies are taking place in India, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The effective planning of local infrastructure could help create conditions needed to reduce energy use and emissions, for example, by building better transport infrastructure that has less impact on the environment.