Cities in climate change is presented as different from the conventional ‘cities and climate change’ literature: it is argued that anthropogenic climate change is generated through demand emanating from cities. This process is many millennia old. Therefore, to understand the concomitant increases in urbanization and climate change in the twenty-first century requires a trans-modern perspective that transcends the current focus on modernity privileging the progress myth and associated technological supply approaches to climate policy. This position is presented as a largely historical narrative based upon combining Jane Jacobs ‘cities first thesis’ with William Ruddiman’s ‘long, slow anthropogenic climate change thesis’. The implications of this approach are discussed in terms of the inherent difficulty of locating cities at the centre of climate change science and policy.