Confronting Climate Change

Can cities be the solution?

An event of the Urban Age Global Debates series hosted by Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft and LSE Cities

This event is one of the series of five public Global Debates celebrating ten years of the Urban Age programme. The debates discuss five core themes that have been the focus of research and debate at the Urban Age since 2005.  The event series is organised by LSE Cities and Deutsche Bank’s Alfred Herrhausen Society, in association with Guardian Cities.

In the run-up to the Paris Climate Conference (COP21), this debate highlighted the fundamental role that cities can play in reducing global energy demand and limiting carbon emissions. It challenged national and international decision-makers and institutions to recognise that action at the metropolitan level can have a direct impact on the health and environmental stability of the planet, as well as promoting green jobs and social equity. China and India’s urban footprints are expected to be six times larger in 2030 than in 2000, while many African cities are among the fastest growing, ushering in urbanisation to the world’s least urban continent. The World Bank has recently pledged up to US$ 29 billion in financial assistance to poorer nations to cope with climate change. The debate confronts some of the tough questions facing decision-makers – should climate change be addressed through adaptation (should we learn to live with water and flooding like the Dutch?) or mitigation (should we reduce greenhouse gas emissions by planning more connected and compact cities, and making more efficient lifestyle choices?). The world’s most respected climate change economist Nicholas Stern confronted these new realities with urban experts and policymakers working across the globe.

Event materials



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    Karen C. Seto

    Professor Seto’s research is on the human transformation of land and the links between urbanisation, global change, and sustainability. A geographer by training, her research integrates remote sensing, field interviews, and modelling methods to study land change and urbanization, forecast urban growth, and examine the environmental consequences of urban expansion. She is Co-Chair of the Urbanization and Global Environmental Change Project (UGEC) and a Coordinating Lead Author for the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report.

    Nicholas Stern

    Nicholas Stern is the IG Patel Professor of Economics and Government and Chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. He is President of the British Academy since 2013, and a Fellow of the Royal Society since 2014. He was Second Permanent Secretary to Her Majesty’s Treasury from 2003-2005; and Head of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, published in 2006. He has published more than 15 books and 100 articles, his most recent book is Why are We Waiting? The Logic, Urgency and Promise of Tackling Climate Change.

    Tessa Jowell

    Dame Tessa Jowell is a former MP and UK Government Secretary of State. She was Minister for the Olympics from 2005–2010 and Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport from 2001–2007. In 2014 she was appointed Professor of Practice, working with LSE Cities and the Department of Government on a range of academic and outreach initiatives. She stood down from UK Parliament in 2015, having served as an MP for the London constituency of Dulwich and West Norwood since 1992.

    Bruce Katz

    Bruce J. Katz is a vice president at the Brookings Institution and founding director of the Metropolitan Policy Program. He is also co-author of The Metropolitan Revolution (Brookings Press, 2013), a distillation of his work on the emerging metropolitan-led "next economy" and its practitioners around the country working to produce more and better jobs driven by innovation, exports and sustainability. Katz regularly advises federal, state, regional and municipal leaders on policy reforms that advance the competitiveness of metropolitan areas.

    Philipp Rode

    Philipp Rode is Executive Director of LSE Cities and Associate Professorial Research Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. As researcher, consultant and advisor he has been directing interdisciplinary projects comprising urban governance, transport, city planning and urban design at the LSE since 2003. The focus of his current work is on institutional structures and governance capacities of cities, and on sustainable urban development, transport and mobility. Rode is co-directing the cities workstream of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate and has co-led the United Nations Habitat III Policy Unit on Urban Governance. He is a Member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP).