February 28, 2018
A new report claims that there are now over 100 greenest cities worldwide who derive at least 70 percent of their electricity from renewable sources. The report from CDP claims that 40 of these now generate all of their energy in this way, including Basel and Reykjavik. No UK cities appear on the list although over 80 UK towns and cities have committed themselves to run on 100 percent clean energy by 2050, according to local government campaign group UK100.
The global environmental impact non-profit orgainsation CDP, holds information from over 570 of the world’s cities and names over 100 of them who are now getting at least 70 percent of their electricity from renewable sources such as hydro, geothermal, solar and wind. The list includes large cities such as Auckland (New Zealand); Nairobi (Kenya); Oslo (Norway); Seattle (USA) and Vancouver (Canada), and is more than double the 40 cities who reported that they were powered by at least 70 percent clean energy in 2015.
CDP’s analysis comes on the same day the UK100 network of local government leaders announce that over 80 UK towns and cities have committed to 100 percent clean energy by 2050, including Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow and 16 London boroughs.
According to the World Economic Forum, unsubsidised renewables were the cheapest source of electricity in 30 countries in 2017, with renewables predicted to be consistently more cost effective than fossil fuels globally by 2020. The new data has been released ahead of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) conference in Edmonton, Canada on 5th March, when city government and science leaders will meet on the role of cities in tackling climate change.
Cities named by CDP as already powered by 100 percent renewable electricity include:
- Burlington, USA: Vermont’s largest city now obtains 100 percent of its electricity from wind, solar, hydro, and biomass. The city has its own utility and citywide grid. In September 2014 the local community approved the city’s purchase of its ‘Winooski One’ Hydroelectric Facility.
- Reykjavik, Iceland: sources all electricity from hydropower and geothermal, and is now working to make all cars and public transit fossil-free by 2040. Iceland has almost entirely transitioned to clean energy for power and household heating.
- Basel, Switzerland: is 100 percent renewable powered by its own energy supply company. Most electricity comes from hydropower and 10 percent from wind. Advocating clear political vision and will, in May 2017 Switzerland voted to phase out nuclear power in favour of renewable energy.
CDP’s 2017 data highlights how cities are stepping up action on climate change with a sharp rise in environmental reporting, emissions reduction targets and climate action plans since 2015, following the ground-breaking Paris Agreement to limit global warming to below 2 degrees.
There is a growing momentum of the renewable energy cities movement beyond the UK, with cities around the world now aiming to switch from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. In the United States, 58 cities and towns have now committed to transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy, including big cities like Atlanta (Georgia) and San Diego (California). Earlier this month, U.S. municipalities Denton (Texas) and St. Louis Park (Minnesota), became the latest communities to establish 100 percent renewable energy targets. In addition to these recent pledges, CDP data shows a further 23 global cities targeting 100 percent renewable energy.
Much of the drive behind city climate action and reporting comes from the 7,000+ mayors signed up to The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy who have pledged to act on climate change.
Kyra Appleby, Director of Cities, CDP said: “Cities are responsible for 70 percent of energy-related CO2 emissions and there is immense potential for them to lead on building a sustainable economy. Reassuringly, our data shows much commitment and ambition. Cities not only want to shift to renewable energy but, most importantly – they can. We urge all cities to disclose to us, work together to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and prioritize the development of ambitious renewable energy procurement strategies. The time to act is now.”
Showing a diverse mix of energy sources, 275 cities are now reporting the use of hydropower, with 189 generating electricity from wind and 184 using solar photovoltaics. An additional 164 use biomass and 65 geothermal.
CDP reports that cities are currently instigating renewable energy developments valued at US$2.3 billion, across nearly 150 projects. This forms part of a wider shift by cities to develop 1,000 clean infrastructure projects, such as electric transport and energy efficiency, worth over US$52 billion.