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With better urban transport carbon, emissions will drop and our air will be healthier. Here’s how we can head further down the road to the cities — and the climate — of the future.

By Neil Valentine, Merijn Martens and Birgitte Keulen

Close your eyes. Imagine a city without traffic jams. Cars honking and screeching are gone, and vehicles hum along softly. The only real nuisance is the occasional cries of children playing football. You take a deep breath. The burnt smell in the air has been replaced by the sweet scent of fresh earth. Your child’s persistent cough has quieted, and your eyes no longer sting.

We have a lot to gain in the fight against carbon emissions and other nuisances from transport. Cities have not always been the healthiest places to live, but that is changing. Good sanitation, industry regulation and better vehicle standards have already improved city life remarkably. …

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Energy efficiency projects are a smart, quick way to cut emissions and reduce utility bills

By Louise White and Reinhard Six

The electricity and fuel used to heat, cool and light buildings account for nearly 40% of energy consumption in Europe and are responsible for around 35% of greenhouse gas emissions. Buildings are the single biggest consumers of energy, so making them more efficient can have a big impact on the race to meet climate goals.

The challenge is immense. Nearly half of all European residential buildings were constructed before 1970, when materials, standards and techniques didn’t consider how much energy was consumed. Many of these older buildings will still be in use in 2050 and beyond.

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Now that ‘green’ is at last on the way to a clearer definition, green loans and green bond markets can chart a more reliable path towards a low-emission, climate-resilient and environmentally friendly future

By Aldo Romani

When Zilu asked Confucius what his first priority would be if he were entrusted with the government of the state, the master replied, “To rectify names.” The key to good government, Confucius tells us, is that words should mean the same thing to everyone. This applies to capital markets, too: investor confidence relies on clear rules and definitions.

The last global financial crisis undermined the credibility of finance and plunged it into a deep crisis of legitimacy. Arjun Appadurai has identified the origin of this crisis in a “failure of language” caused by derivative finance. …

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© Getty Images

Food has to be produced more efficiently, if we’re to fight climate change. Here’s how data and technology can make our food choices environmentally friendly

By Janel Siemplenski Lefort, Arnold Verbeek, Surya Fackelmann, and Brendan McDonagh

Our quest for food has historically come at the planet’s expense. For millennia, nature was pushed aside to make room for growing crops and raising animals.

As much as half of the Earth’s forests were felled over the last 5 000 years. In the first decade of this century, tropical countries lost seven million hectares of forests each year, mainly for agriculture.

Nourishing the world’s 7.6 billion people is degrading ecosystems, depleting water resources and driving climate change. Agriculture for food and for non-food products like leather accounts for over one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions and roughly one-third of global energy demand, much of which comes from non-renewable sources. …

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Nature is our best ally if we want to deliver a liveable world to future generations. To tackle climate change, biodiversity provides answers that can buy time for innovation and economic transformation

By Stephen Hart and Andrew Neill

Photos by Philppe Bourseiller

Nature is at the heart of stable carbon, water and energy cycles. We often don’t see the microscopic living connections and fail to grasp the bigger picture of how they weave and flow around the planet. It’s an adaptable system that has evolved and changed, modified by human intervention and natural disasters. But we must not take that adaptability for granted.

What we consume and burn feeds a blanket around the planet, seeps into the oceans and pervades our own bodies and every other living thing. We have severed many of nature’s living connections and cycles. Our economic progress has been accompanied by a reckless disregard for the cost to our world. Mankind not only depends on nature for physical survival and shares the same physical vulnerabilities, but there also are profound implications for our sense of place in the world. …

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Investment in the blue economy must be a priority if we are to protect the oceans from plastics and waste. Here’s a range of project and policy initiatives that will do just that

By Alessandra Borello and Jonas Byström

The amount of plastic that ends up as waste in the oceans each year is estimated at eight million tonnes. If we want to stop this pollution, we shouldn’t focus on the oceans.

To save the seas, we need to change our work on land.

Every day, plastics are thrown or washed into streets, backyards, rivers, beaches and coastal areas all over the world. A lot of this waste ends up in the oceans. It also clogs drains and increases flooding in many cities, creating a breeding ground for disease-bearing insects and rodents.

One key problem is that people buy too many single-use plastics such as bags, bottles and straws, and they throw them away after a short time. There is a simple fix to this problem: stop buying and using such products and packaging. There is no simple fix to the other problem: improving the poor waste collection and disposal methods in many parts of the world. Both of these problems send a lot of plastic into the seas. …

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Climate adaptation is the next step for cities that need to protect themselves — and their citizens — against the inevitable effects of climate change. Here are some ideas about how to do it from urban development experts.

By Leonor Berriochoa Alberola and Giulia Macagno

The risk of flooding and other increasingly extreme weather events is a major headache for planners in historic cities, who can do little to change the dense, narrow streets of old centres.

That’s why Florence, whose centre is as historic as they get, is putting into effect a plan to create areas around the Ema, a tributary of the city’s biggest river, the Arno, that will sop up future floods like a sponge. When the river isn’t in flood, these areas will be parks to be enjoyed by citizens.

It’s a clever plan and it’s something that more and more cities all over the world are going to be doing. Cities are adapting to the consequences of climate change with nature-based solutions that also make the city more attractive and pleasant for residents.

Economic models help economists understand how things work by reflecting things that can’t be observed directly and by projecting forward

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Natacha Valla and Georg Weiers on A Dictionary of Finance podcast —©EIB blog usage

What’s your favourite model? Is it made of Lego? Is it Gisele Bündchen? Or perhaps it’s inflation? Your answer will determine (among other things…) whether you are an economist or not. Even if you aren’t an economist but have at least wondered, How do economists use economic models, we have the podcast episode for you.

Natacha Valla and Georg Weiers came on the podcast A Dictionary of Finance to talk about how economists use models — as well as to give us specific examples of how the European Investment Bank used a model to figure out the impact of the billions of euros it lends each year. …

Investment is the acquisition of goods that are used in the production of other goods and services. Those goods and services are used to produce something in the future.

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Debora Revoltella, Philipp-Bastian Brutscher and Atanas Kolev on A Dictionary of Finance podcast — ©EIB blog usage

Investment has been neglected in Europe since the financial crisis a decade ago, according to the European Investment Bank’s annual Investment Survey. But what effect does that really have?

To answer that, first we back up and ask: What is investment? Why does it need to keep increasing? In fact, the definition of investment and its role needs to change, says Debora Revoltella, the EIB’s chief economist, on the podcast A Dictionary of Finance. That’s a result of the drop in investment over the last decade.

“One message we have for Europe,’’ Debora says, “is that we should have a new narrative stating the importance of infrastructure, reprioritizing it in political terms. …

Climate finance is aimed at supporting climate action by helping reduce greenhouse gases and helping people adapt to climate change

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Nancy Saich and Martin Berg give the lowdown on climate finance on A Dictionary of Finance podcast — ©EIB blog usage

Climate change is a vital issue for the future of the world, and climate finance is key to confronting it.

You get the lowdown on this supremely important subject on the European Investment Bank’s podcast A Dictionary of Finance this week. We interview Nancy Saich, senior technical advisor in the EIB’s Environment, Climate and Social Office, and Martin Berg, investment officer in the Infrastructure Funds and Climate Action division of the Bank.

Nancy starts with definitions of climate terms, including:

  • Mitigation: addressing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to reduce, avoid or sequester them (sequestering is usually done by planting trees, which absorb the carbon…


Matt Rees

Head of Editorial at the European Investment Bank, the EU bank. I write about the difference the bank makes globally, often with a focus on urban development.

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