The findings, published in a report titled New Lenses on Future Cities, show energy use currently concentrated in two of the six city archetypes: sprawling metropolises like Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo, and prosperous communities such as Dubai and Stockholm. These cities have relatively low-density and high per capita GDP, and are typically found in the United States and Europe.Urban powerhouses, the third archetype characterized by high population densities and high individual incomes, are also heavy energy users. But their share of global consumption is modest by comparison as few cities belong in this archetype (eg. Hong Kong, Singapore, New York).

Developing mega-hubs like Hyderabad and Chongqing, and underprivileged crowded cities such as Manila and Bangalore are relatively light energy users today. But while these cities have low individual incomes and medium to high populations, most of them will join the next wave of urbanisation as they become more prosperous. Their growing energy demand will shape global levels of energy use, making their development choices critical. Underdeveloped Urban Centres,the most common archetype, account for only 11% of total energy used in the cities studied. They are low energy users.    

“Despite the differences between cities, best practice does exist around urban development and how to manage it,” said Wim Thomas, Shell Chief Energy Advisor. “Compact, densely-populated, well-planned cities with effective integrated infrastructure and services are more resource-efficient. With appropriate attention, they can also be attractive places to live.”

New Lenses on Future Cities is the first of a series of supplements that Shell will publish on urbanisation and future energy. The supplement provides a future energy-based perspective for political and business leaders as they make decisions that affect city planning and development. To support the launch of the report, a Shell Future Cities interactive quiz was also rolled out. The quiz presents the core findings of the report in a digital format and is showcased at the World Cities Summit in Singapore, where the supplement was launched.

The supplement follows from the New Lens Scenarios which Shell published in March 2013. While Shell has been building and applying scenarios for more than 40 years, the New Lens Scenariosintroduced a range of new analytical tools – so-called “lenses” – that help policy and other decision-makers recognise and interpret future energy issues. It also looked over a longer time frame than previous reports – through to 2060 and beyond. Rising energy intensity from a growing and more prosperous global population will have increasingly longer-term impact.  

“Careful planning would help achieve a more efficient, integrated use of resources,” Mr. Thomas said.  “That places urban design at the heart of efforts to encourage and engineer greater resilience in those systems and services that will be essential to our future wellbeing and prosperity.”


Related Links:

New Lenses on Future Cities


Cindy Lopez

Head, Asia-Pacific Media Relations

Mich Villar

Shell Spokesperson, Asia-Pacific

Notes to Editors

Photos from the launch event are available via

New Lenses on Future Cities is available via

About Shell Scenarios

Shell Scenarios ask “what if?” questions to explore alternative views of the future and create plausible stories around them. They consider long-term trends in economics, energy supply and demand, geopolitical shifts and social change, as well as the motivating factors that drive change. In doing so, they help build visions of the future. Shell’s latest New Lens Scenarios were published in 2013.

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