For millennia, the vast majority of the world’s population lived in the countryside. But with the onset of the agricultural and industrial revolution in the early 19th Century, technological and societal changes encouraged increased urbanisation. Fast forward to today and more than 54% of the world’s population lives in cities — a situation that brings both good and bad. One of the most pressing challenges is making sure that cities, which represents 65% of global energy demand and produce 70% of CO2 emissions, are economically and environmentally sustainable.
To address the challenges and opportunities inherent in creating sustainable cities, the United Nations organises every 20 years a Conference of Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, known as ‘Habitat’. This year Habitat III, the third summit of its kind, convenes from 17 to 20 October 2016 in Quito, Ecuador. The conference aims to adopt a “New Urban Agenda” that will lay the future groundwork for policies and approaches to sustainable development for cities around the world.
Taking advantage of this unique gathering of city stakeholders, IRENA is hosting a side event on 18 October 2016, titled RE-energising Cities: Renewable Energy in Urban Settings. Showcasing the innovative and transformative ways that cities can contribute to the renewable energy transition, the event aims to share cutting-edge information, highlight examples of successful policy frameworks, and discuss priority areas for action to capitalise on the opportunities that renewables present. The event is being live streamed and starts at 15:00 UTC.
A platform to launch
IRENA’s will launch its latest report during the event on Renewable Energy in Cities, which uses data from 3,649 cities to explore the potential to scale-up renewable energy by 2030. The report outlines three priority action areas for cities to scale-up renewables, to supply more energy than its current 20% share. These areas include:
- Renewable energy in buildings
- Renewable energy in transport
- Integrating urban energy systems
Renewable Energy in Cities lays out the proven and emerging renewable technology solutions for addressing these areas and examines the growing links between the building, transport and power sectors, and the build-out of smart grids and demand-side management.
While not all cities are the same — no single renewable solution will work everywhere — the report emphasizes that the first step towards a renewable solution is to identify and understand the unique features of each city.