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Global Cities Committed to 100% Renewable Energy More Than Double in Two Years

Renewables are on the rise — according to new data published today by CDP, over 100 cities around the world 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.

The analysis coincides with an announcement from UK100, a network of local government leaders driving the clean energy transition, that more than 80 UK towns and cities have committed to 100 percent clean energy by 2050, including Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow and 16 London boroughs.

The shift has largely been attributed to the growing affordability of renewables, as well as pressure to deliver a below 2°C future. According to the World Economic Forum, unsubsidized 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.

“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,” said Kyra Appleby, Director of Cities at CDP.

The new data has been released ahead of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) conference in Edmonton, Canada on March 5, 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 ‘Winookski One’ Hydroelectric Facility.
  • Reykjavik, Iceland: This capital city sources all of its 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: The third largest city in 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 favor of renewable energy.

CDP’s 2017 data highlights how cities are ramping up actions to tackle climate change, with a sharp rise in environmental report, emissions reduction targets and climate action plans since 2015.

In the United States, 58 cities and towns, such as Atlanta, Georgia and San Diego, California have now pledged to transition to 100 percent renewable energy. Earlier this month, Denton, Texas and St. Louis Park, Minnesota became the latest communities to establish 100 renewable energy targets. In addition to these recent commitments, 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.

“Burlington, Vermont is proud to have been the first city in the United States to source 100 percent of our power from renewable generation. Through our diverse mix of biomass, hydro, wind and solar, we have seen first-hand that renewable energy boosts our local economy and creates a healthier place to work, live and raise a family. We encourage other cities around the globe to follow our innovative path as we all work toward a more sustainable energy future,” said Miro Weinberger, Mayor of Burlington, Vermont, USA.

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 $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 $52 billion.


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