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Cities explore pathway towards 100% Renewable Energy

Curitiba was among the 12 cities that participated in a dialogue workshop on the transformative role of local governments towards a 100% Renewable Energy (RE) future, held on December 7 at the Cities & Regions Pavilion – TAP2015, during COP21 in Paris, France. This closed-door session brought together cities and regions from all over the world, including Aspen, Australian Capital Territory, Byron Shire, Cape Town, Curitiba, Jeju province, Kaoshiung, Malmö, Medellín, Paris, Tshwane, and Vancouver. Local governments like Malmö, Jeju and Vancouver have already made commitments to reach 100%RE. All cities present shared on the challenges and successes they have encountered so far. Both committed and aspiring cities agreed that sharing and peer-learning among cities is very helpful for moving forward.

Tube stations by Cristina Valencia / CC BY (above) ad Malmö, Sweden (below)

Curitiba, an Urban-LEDS city in Brazil, is proud of their world-renowned public transportation system and transit oriented development, as well as to be working on 100% biodiesel buses. Curitiba wishes to increase public awareness about renewable energy. As the population is used to "cheap" hydro-electricity, making the business case for other renewables is a challenge. Curitiba is in the process of developing renewable energy targets but they are not yet ready to report them.

This dialogue workshop took place back-to-back with an open session where political leaders from the cities of Paris, Vancouver, Tshwane, Malmö and Jeju Province took the stage to share with the audience on their strategy for a transition towards renewables. “What does it take? Will, Partnership, Pilots, Vision, Leadership” said Milan Obradovic, Deputy Mayor of the City of Malmö, Sweden.

Célia Blauel, Deputy Mayor of the City of Paris indicated “We need to change the scale, to plan for the 100% RE to come from the Metropolitan Area which is yet to be built”. Paris has the commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70% by 2050 and is now exploring new energy targets. “We are doing this for the planet, but also because it is good for our citizens: lower energy prices, jobs, and better air quality.” she said.

The political leaders in this open session also pointed out to some common ingredients for success in triggering a commitment towards 100% renewable energy (RE). Different policy instruments and infrastructure measures were identified as important pieces of the puzzle, covering a wide range of sectors. While the policy package may include 100%RE targets, building codes and other regulations, incentives or subsidies such as the feed-in tariff, the infrastructure measures may cover building retrofit, district energy, smart grids, electric vehicles, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), generation of biogas from waste, and use of other sources of renewable energy such as geothermal and heat from waste water, among many other examples.  Kgosientso Ramokgopa, Mayor of the City of Tshwane, South Africa, indicated that the City’s RE Strategy includes self-generation as a way to reach energy accessibility and affordability, and that demonstration projects play a key role, although more favorable national regulatory frameworks are needed. IRENA’s representative recognized the role which local governments can play in the deployment of renewable energy.

The dialogue workshop and open session, co-hosted by ICLEI, World Future Council and Renewable Cities, were offered in the context of the 100% Renewable Cities and Regions network and ended with an invitation for interested cities to connect and explore joining this community of practice to enable them to further exchange with other leading cities and experts to thus accelerate the transition towards a 100% renewable energy future. “We know it is possible [to reach a 100%RE target] and we are happy to see other cities, provinces and regions around the world, joining us in setting a very ambitious pace in going renewable” said Mayor Gregor Robertson of the City of Vancouver. Anna Leidreiter, Campaign Coordinator of the multistakeholder Global 100% RE Campaign, said “Seeing the amount of cities taking action here at COP is the most encouraging signal we can send to the world.” This can only be the beginning!

For more information visit www.iclei.org/lowcarboncity/100re and http://go100re.net/

Photo credits:
Tube stations by Cristina Valencia, originally published here