Global Challenge, Global Solutions: Climate Action for Urban Sustainability

CURB, a data-driven planning tool designed by the World Bank and partners helps cities more easily identify and prioritize cost-effective, efficient ways to reduce carbon emissions and improve urban livelihoods.

“Global Challenge, Global Solutions” is a series hosted on Climasphere highlighting inspiring, innovative, and creative global solutions to the challenge of climate change in the lead up to the next major climate conference, COP22. These solutions have been provided by members of the Earth To Marrakech coalition, a group of more than 50 media organizations, civil society groups, and businesses from around the world who are raising their voices in a collective call to move from words to action on climate change. Let’s send a message, from Earth To Marrakech: The solutions to climate change are out there, and they’re inspiring. 

New Data-Driven Planning Tool Helps Cities Advance Climate Action


Just like many other large cities, Buenos Aires used to have a massive congestion problem. Despite a sophisticated public transportation system, commuters would once spend hours in traffic because of the sheer number of cars on the roads. This directly affected commuters’ livelihoods, curtailed the city’s efficiency, and contributed to the country’s increasing rates of CO2 emissions.

To address these challenges on climate and efficiency, Buenos Aires adopted measures such as creating a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system and a bike-sharing program. While the city has achieved monumental accomplishments in the recent years, it still has a long way to go on reducing its carbon footprint and meeting climate goals.

Buenos Aires is not alone in facing these issues. It is estimated that cities are responsible for more than 70% of global GHG emissions. Meanwhile, climate change disproportionately affects the most vulnerable people living in cities, particularly in the developing world. Yet, many cities’ attempts to take climate action are hindered by a lack of comprehensive data and a shortage of viable solutions.

A data-driven tool to inform climate action

During Climate Week NYC in September 2016, the World Bank, together with C40 Cities, the Compact of Mayors, and other partners, launched a new planning tool called “CURB: Climate Action for Urban Sustainability,” which can help address some of these issues.

“CURB provides tailored analyses that can help city officials more easily identify, prioritize, and plan cost-effective and efficient ways to reduce carbon emissions,” said Stephen Hammer, Manager of Climate Policy at the World Bank, who led CURB’s development.

The CURB tool relies on city-specific data to estimate the cost, feasibility, and impact of a range of climate actions under different scenarios. Using CURB, city officials can:

  • Explore an array of climate-smart options—from more efficient transport systems to retrofitted buildings;
  • Define what goals are realistic;
  • Simulate technology and policy changes to assess the best course of action; and
  • Analyze project financials to determine cost-savings and returns on investment.

These smart investment decisions can in turn help cities create jobs, improve livelihoods, and build up resilience to climate risks—especially for the poor and vulnerable.

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