Cities have key role in low-carbon transition, says IRENA report

With cities accounting for 65% of global energy use and 70% of man-made carbon emissions, transitioning to a greener city infrastructure will play a key role in accelerating the low-carbon economy worldwide, says a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)

The IRENA reportRenewable Energy in Cities’  analyses the overall energy use in 3,649 cities, and explores how different cities can scale-up renewable energy and green infrastructure by 2030.

The report highlights best practices from different cities from around the world and shows what policies would need to be implemented to accommodate the low-carbon transition.

Cities can accelerate the uptake of renewable energy in three priority areas: renewable energy in buildings (for heating, cooling, cooking, and appliances); sustainable options for transport (electric mobility and biofuels); and creating integrated urban energy systems.

IRENA’s director-general Adnan Z Amin said: “Cities can play a transformative role in leading the world to a clean and sustainable energy future.

“We have to rethink the entire urban energy landscape, which requires rigorous planning and holistic decision-making. Renewable energy, combined with energy efficiency, will power the future growth of cities. We must ensure this transition happens as soon as possible.”

The report reveals no “one-size fits all” solution exists, but that different city classes have the potential to expand green infrastructure and improve renewable energy costs effectively.

The IRENA report also suggests that city actors can accelerate the renewable energy transition at a local level by implementing city acting planners, regulators, financers and operators of urban infrastructure.

“By 2050, urban populations are expected to double, making urbanisation one of this century’s most transformative trends. Now is the time to grow with renewables, leapfrog dirty technology, and create cities of the future that people are proud to call home,” Amin added.

Further information (PDF report)