Cities ‘must take the lead to low carbon transition’

Cities across the globe must take the lead in the transition to a low carbon energy sector. They account for up to two-thirds of the potential to cost effectively reduce […]

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By Jacqueline Echevarria

Cities across the globe must take the lead in the transition to a low carbon energy sector.

They account for up to two-thirds of the potential to cost effectively reduce global carbon emissions, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Its new report forecasts at least two-thirds of the growth in global final energy demand will come from cities in emerging and developing economies by 2050, doubling energy-related CO2 emissions if policies don’t change.

That’s because a large portion of new buildings –  equivalent to 40% of the world’s current building stock – are expected to be built in these cities during the same period.

The IEA suggests using technologies like rooftop solar – which could meet one-third of cities’ electricity demand – as well as energy efficient windows and appliances.

It expects electric vehicles and public transport to lead the low carbon mobility system while reducing investment by $20 trillion (£13.6tn) compared to current development trends in cities.

The organisation believes COP21 goals are achievable as there have been positive developments on renewables, which currently provides around 23% of global electricity generation.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said: “Because cities are centres of economic growth and innovation, they are ideal test beds for new technologies – from more sustainable transport systems to smart grids – that will help lead the transition to a low carbon energy sector.

“COP21 could prove to be a historic turning point for radical action against climate change and recent developments on some clean energy technologies are encouraging. However, overall progress is still too slow and must be accelerated to avoid low fossil fuel prices becoming an obstacle to the low carbon transition.”