Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Urban infrastructure choices structure climate solutions

Cities are becoming increasingly important in combatting climate change, but their overall role in global solution pathways remains unclear. Here we suggest structuring urban climate solutions along the use of existing and newly built infrastructures, providing estimates of the mitigation potential.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: CO2e emissions from the three different urban categories.


  1. Seto, K. et al. in Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change (eds Edenhofer, O. et al.) Ch. 12 (IPCC, Cambridge Univ. Press, 2015).

    Google Scholar 

  2. Grübler, A. et al. Global Energy Assessment: Toward a Sustainable Future (IIASA, 2012).

    Google Scholar 

  3. Bertraud, A. & Richardson, H. W. in Urban Sprawl in Western Europe and the United States 293–310 (Lond. Ashgate, 2004).

    Google Scholar 

  4. Ewing, R. & Cervero, R. J. Amer. Plan. Ass. 76, 265–294 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Minx, J. C. et al. Environ. Sci. Technol. 45, 9144–9153 (2011).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Urge-Vorsatz, D., Petrichenko, K., Staniec, M. & Eom, J. Curr. Opin. Env. Sustainability 5, 141–151 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Balaras, C. A. et al. Build Environ. 42, 1298–1314 (2007).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Creutzig, F. Transport Rev. 36, 341–360, (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Erickson, P. & Tempest, K. Keeping Cities Green: Avoiding Carbon Lock-in due to Urban Development (Stockholm Environment Institute, 2015).

    Google Scholar 

  10. Rogelj, J. et al. Nat. Clim. Change 6, 245–252 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Creutzig, F., Baiocchi, G., Bierkandt, R., Pichler, P.-P. & Seto, K. C. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 112, 6283–6288 (2015).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Creutzig, F. Urban Clim. 10, 63–76 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Energy Technology Perspectives 2016 - Towards Sustainable Urban Energy Systems (International Energy Agency, 2016).

  14. Müller, D. B. et al. Environ. Sci. Technol. 47, 11739–11746 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Baiocchi, G., Creutzig, F., Minx, J. & Pichler, P.-P. Glob. Environ. Change 34, 13–21 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Rogelj, J. et al. Nat. Clim. Change 5, 519–527 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


This manuscript is an output of the Global Carbon Project's research initiative Urban and Regional Carbon Management ( GPP and RMA were supported by the Research Council of Norway (project 569980).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Felix Creutzig.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Creutzig, F., Agoston, P., Minx, J. et al. Urban infrastructure choices structure climate solutions. Nature Clim Change 6, 1054–1056 (2016).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing