Zero carbon cities gather momentum

When the world’s most carbon-conscious mayors meet in Copenhagen to learn how some cities are heading for zero carbon already during the 2020s, will your city’s mayor be among them? If not, have you asked: Why not?

Why is this important in a climate breakdown perspective? Because cities account for 70% of global CO2 emissions today.

You could suggest to your city’s mayor to sign up for this global summit – a landmark climate event in Copenhagen in October 2019. It will be an opportunity to learn more in detail what the city of Copenhagen has implemented in order to become the world’s first carbon neutral capital by 2025.

This is the reality: in cities, towns and rural areas across the the world, citizens, companies and city councils are signing up for a clean energy future, eager to reach the Zero Carbon goal. They know, as we do, that 100 per cent clean energy and zero carbon is not only possible. It’s already happening.

“Cities play a critical role in transforming our world out of the era of fossil fuels and into a renewable world. This is our time to make this shift and transform our cities to become sustainable, resilient cities for us all and future generations. This is our chance as our window of time is narrowing.”
~ Rebecca Foon, co-organiser of the first ‘Pathway to Paris’ concert in New York four years ago

» World Economic Forum:
This Swedish city has slashed CO2 emissions while growing by a third
“This Swedish city has cut emissions at rates only seen after economic crashes, recessions or war. And it’s thriving.”

» GovernmentNews – 26 October 2018:
Sweden’s sustainable cities a lesson for Australia
“The involvement of local government has been essential to Swedish city’s remarkable carbon emissions reduction success, experts say.”

‘Cities key to fighting climate change’

[2:05] “The world’s governments alone cannot make the kind of progress that is needed on global climate change. They alone cannot do it. They need everyone coming together, everyone working together. They need the cities, they need the states, the provinces, and the regions. They need the corporations, the activists, the scientists, and the universities. They need the individuals whose vision and determination create movements. Let us regain our hope by liberating the transformational power beneath the national level.”
~ Arnold Schwarzenegger speaking at the global UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen in December 2009

As the American and Republican mayor Rex Parris has shown it in Lancaster, Los Angeles, climate action is cost efficient, profitable and just plain makes good sense:

“At World War II, what occurred was that our way of life and everything about us was threatened. It was a very real threat. It could have all ended.

And so Republicans and Democrats, and Christians and Muslims, everybody came together, because we had this enemy that was going to crush us if we didn’t.

We came together and survived.

The threat that World War II presented to us is one tenth of the threat that we are facing today. And what is crazy about is: even Republicans know it. We all know it.

It is the insanity that seems to be overwhelming us. It is hard to comprehend.

But then again, it is not at all, because it is so horrible what we are facing, it is hard to keep looking at it for very long at all. (…)

The synergy that develops when you start facing this common enemy and bringing people together is that everything gets better.

We had the highest crime rate in LA County. It is now one of the lowest. We had the highest number of gang murders. In two years we had zero. Because that’s what happens when the community comes together to have a common goal. And what is that goal? We want our children to live! Because that is really what is at stake.”
~ Rex Parris, mayor of Lancaster, Los Angeles, USA

Mayor Rex Parris is a visionary who has brought amazing sustainable change to a very conservative city of 160,000 people. Parris is not alone. Georgetown in Texas is a community of 50,000 people that has chosen to get all of its electricity from wind and solar energy because renewable power is cheaper than fossil fuel alternatives. Greensburg in Kansas rebuilt itself as a thriving 100 per cent wind-powered town after a tornado almost wiped the small town off the map.

The challenge: increased urbanisation puts cities under severe stress

Focus on global city challenges and sustainable solutions

“More than half of the world’s population live in cities. By 2050, this figure is expected to be 70 percent. As the pace of urbanisation only quickens, cities face immense challenges related to waste and water management, mobility, climate adaptation and energy.

However, cities have the possibility to become drivers of green growth – thereby contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 11 (SDG11) concerning sustainable cities and communities. To accomplish this, cities need solutions to ensure that they are optimised for sustainable economic activity, energy consumption and positive environmental impacts.”

How the smart city concept can resolve global city challenges

Bicycle superhighways increase employee health and decrease CO2 emissions
The superhighways connect 19 Danish municipalities and it is expected that there will be a network of 45 superhighways connecting municipalities and the capital region.

Urban regeneration – a path to more sustainable cities
Projects in four European cities show that a comprehensive strategy comprising both physical and social initiatives can transform whole areas into attractive and liveable spaces.

Alternative fuel – 200 new hydrogen buses
With EUR 13 million for hydrogen buses from the EU, Denmark will be able to advance more rapidly in regard to hydrogen technology and allow it to become more competitive with traditional fossil fuel technologies.

Creating liveable, sustainable and prosperous societies

As the pace of urbanisation only quickens, cities face immense challenges related to sustainable waste management, mobility, climate adaptation and energy. However, as their political, economic and technological power grows, cities can harness this trend to act as leaders in the green transition and drivers of the green economy – contributing to solving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Cities need smart solutions to ensure that they are optimised for sustainable economic activity, energy consumption and positive environmental impacts.

This white paper ‘Smart cities’ features lessons learned from smart cities applying sustainable solutions. Through state-of-the-art case examples across waste management, mobility, water, buildings, heating and cooling and smart energy systems, the white paper illustrates how taking a smart approach to urban development creates liveable, sustainable and prosperous societies globally. It is meant to serve as a tool for inspiration for reaping the benefits of implementing sustainable, smart city solutions in your city.

The above is an excerpt from the Danish State of Green’s Global Challenge Newsletter – a number of newsletters focusing on the global challenges concerning Energy, Water, Cities and Circular economy in connection to the upcoming Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona.

19 global cities commit to make new buildings “net-zero carbon” by 2030

Under a new plan, Los Angeles in the United States will work with utilities, car companies, and other partners to dramatically reduce transportation sector emissions by 2028.

Local climate actions with impact

• Focus on transit and transportation
• Create ‘go zones’
• Take pressure off the central business district
• Mandate clean energy
• Require buildings to be carbon-zero

» CityLab – 17 October 2018:
What Local Climate Actions Would Have the Greatest Impact
“In light of even more dire news about our warming planet, leading thinkers tell us the one thing cities and states could do to cut emissions significantly — and fast.”

» The Guardian – 10 September 2018:
As New York and London mayors, we call on all cities to divest from fossil fuels
“Together, the world’s urban centres can send a message to the fossil fuel industry: join us in tackling climate change.”