Metal cluster, at sub-nanometer level has a unique property in the activation of small molecules, in contrast to that of bulk surface. In the present work, singly exposed active site of copper metal cluster at sub-nanometer level was designed to arrive at the energy minimised configurations, binding energy, electrostatic potential map, frontier molecular orbitals and partial density of states. The ab initio molecular dynamics was carried out to probe the catalytic nature of the cluster. Further, the stability of the metal cluster and its catalytic activity in the electrochemical reduction of CO 2 to CO were evaluated by means of computational hydrogen electrode via calculation of the free energy profile using DFT/B3LYP level of theory in vacuum. The activity of the cluster is ascertained from the fact that the copper atom, present in a two coordinative environment, performs a more selective conversion of CO 2 to CO at an applied potential of −0.35 V which is comparatively lower than that of higher coordinative sites. The present study helps to design any sub-nano level metal catalyst for electrochemical reduction of CO2 to various value added chemicals. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.