Economics serving society

Sustainable Cities, Sustainable Mobility

Because they account for three quarters of greenhouse gas emissions and consume two thirds of the world’s energy, cities will play a decisive role in the decarbonization of society. For several years now, they have been engaged in a wide range of actions to transform themselves into “zero-carbon” cities by 2050. The scope of decarbonization includes the transition of transport systems, energy efficiency, integrated waste management and the promotion of recycling, as well as investment in sustainable urban infrastructure. This transition is mobilizing all the players in the city, both public and private, urban service operators and industrialists, revealing a new value chain with as yet unclear contours. Citizens are called upon to play a major role, more active than in the past, through the adoption of new behaviors.

It is a question of designing a real “urban New Deal” with all the actors, based on efficient urban systems capable of reconciling density, equity and efficiency with sustainable development and the quality of life of the inhabitants. The current health crisis highlights the fragility of cities and the urgent need to think in terms of urban resilience to enable cities to adapt to future challenges.

Mobility, housing and energy are three key sectors of a low-carbon city. Because of their importance in the daily lives of inhabitants and their environmental impact, they are the focus of the necessary changes. These changes concern, in particular, urban space, which must be restructured to reduce environmental impact and improve attractiveness and social cohesion, but also the digitalization of urban services. The use of new information technologies, via the deployment of sensors, the widespread use of smartphones and IoT, and the processing of massive data collected thanks to AI solutions, should make it possible to improve the quality and optimize the management of urban mobility and energy services.

Transportation policies condition the location choices of households and businesses, real estate markets, long-term urban dynamics and spatial inequalities. Conversely, housing policies and the structuring of the built environment influence modal choices, the adoption of new forms of mobility and the ecological footprint of cities. These particularly structuring policies imply substantial investments in infrastructure, urban development and the deployment of dedicated services. They also have an impact on other policies with social and environmental externalities, an impact that needs to be measured in order to understand the long-term intra- and inter-urban dynamics.

The New Deal Urban Chair develops research and communication activities on the issue of the transition to the decarbonized city.