Cities are of central importance for both economic growth and sustainable development. While urbanization has enhanced agglomeration economies, urban sprawling has simultaneously increased land-use and energy consumption, making the transition to a low-carbon development pathway particularly complicated. In this context, compact cities (i.e. densely populated) have been increasingly mentioned as a key option to limit the global increase in temperature. However, in urban settings of Latin America, higher density might exacerbate negative congestion effects already affecting urban areas and produce uncertain impacts on CO2 emissions. To better understand the CO2 emissions impact of higher density in Latin-American cities, a new methodological approach is developed to systematically assess city-level CO2 emissions for a set of 570 cities distributed across 7 countries. Based on this new dataset, a spatial panel model is built with the purpose to find robust evidence that higher density reduces CO2 emissions at the city-level. Results also shed lights on the crucial role that spatial planning can play to help curbing CO2 emissions in Latin-American.
Keywords: urban emissions; low-carbon cities; population-based clusters; economic geography; spatial patterns.