Life After Carbon | The Next Global Transformation of Cities


Washington, DC (August 24, 2022)—A new urban model is emerging worldwide to address the realities of climate change. Cities today produce 70 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases, which has pushed forward-thinking cities to develop waves of innovations—new policies, programs, tools, business models, and more—to aggressively tackle these realities.

In Life After Carbon. The Next Global Transformation of Cities (Publication Date: December 4, 2022), urban sustainability consultants Peter Plastrik and John Cleveland present the new ideas that are converting climate disaster into urban opportunity and shaping the future of cities worldwide. They present this pattern of urban reinvention through stories of 25 “climate innovation lab” cities across the globe—from Copenhagen and Cape Town to Melbourne and Mexico City to San Francisco and Shanghai.3

Life After Carbon: The Next Global Transformation of Cities
  • Plastrik, Peter (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

A city innovation lab is the entire city—the complex, messy, real urban world where innovations must work. It is a city in which government, business, and community leaders take to heart the challenge of climate change and converge on the radical changes that are necessary. They turn buildings into renewable-energy power plants, re-nature entire neighborhoods, incubate growing numbers of clean-energy and smart-tech companies, convert waste to energy, free downtowns from cars, and much more.


Life After Carbon takes a deep look into these cities to show the scope and potential for global urban change. Examples include Copenhagen, Shanghai, and Vancouver’s efforts to become incubators for clusters of hundreds of clean-energy businesses; New York City’s work to deeply cut energy use in its 1 million buildings; Oslo and San Francisco’s emerging “circular economies” for organic materials that produce carbon-capturing compost for agricultural land; Melbourne’s award-winning urban-forest investments and regulations; Rotterdam’s pioneering green infrastructure neighborhood, the Zoho; and Portland’s Tilikum Crossing, the first major bridge in America for pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit only. Other inspirational stories feature Stockholm’s new low-carbon Royal Seaport district for 30,000 residents and Austin’s Mueller community, a 700-acre transit-oriented development for 13,000 residents.

Throughout, Plastrik and Cleveland identify four transformational ideas that are driving urban climate innovation in practice, not just in theory: carbon-free advantage; efficient abundance; nature’s benefits; and adaptive futures. These ideas are the pillars of a new urban model emerging worldwide—transforming cities and upending the ideas on which the modern city was built during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Mindy Lubber, CEO of Ceres said, “This is an important and inspiring book for business leaders and other professionals in their efforts to create more livable cities while strengthening climate resilience.”

Life After Carbon is a powerful vision from two of the leading voices in urban sustainability. It will inspire anyone who cares about the future of our cities and help them to map a sustainable path forward.

Peter Plastrik and John Cleveland are cofounders of the Innovation Network for Communities. They were founding consultants to the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance and the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN), coauthors of several INC reports about cities and climate change, and coauthors of Connecting to Change the World: Harnessing the Power of Networks for Social Impact. Peter was manager of USDN’s Innovation Fund. John serves as executive director of the Boston Green Ribbon Commission.