The Business Case for Carbon Neutral Cities

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Recorded 8th December 2015 as a UN Environment and SEforALL side-event at COP21, Paris with support from: International District Energy Association, EuroHeat and Power, Empower, Invest in Denmark and Business Sweden.

Speakers and moderators included:

  • Mr. Achim Steiner, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (now former ED)
  • Mr. François Moisan, Executive Director, ADEME
  • Dr. Thibaud Voïta, Programme Officer, Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Energy for All Initiative
  • Mr. Hans Jørgen Koch, Chief Executive Officer, Nordic Energy Research
  • Mr. Olivier Biancarelli, Vice President Decentralized Solutions for Cities and Regions, ENGIE
  • Prof. Datuk Ismail Ibrahim, Chief Executive, Iskander Regional Development Authority, Malaysia
  • Mr. Mark Watts, Executive Director, C40 Cities
  • Ms. Celia Blauel, Deputy Mayor, City of Paris, France
  • Ms. Lily Riahi, Advisor on Sustainable Energy in Cities, Energy, Climate, and Technology Branch, UNEP
  • H. E. Ms. Stana Bozovic, State Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture & Environmental Protection, Serbia
  • Mr. Niels B. Christiansen, Chief Executive Officer, Danfoss
  • Mr. Carlo Germano, Senior Vice President Innovation and Markets, Veolia
  • Mrs. Maryke Van Staden, Executive Director, Carbonn Centre, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
  • Ms Tiina Kähö, Director of the Carbon-neutral Industry Focus Area, Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund.
  • Mr. Bruno Gardner, The Carbon Trust
  • Mr Ulf Kamne, Vice-Mayor of Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Mr Matthew Pencharz, Deputy Mayor for Environment & Energy, London
  • Cllr Thabo Manyoni, Executive Mayor of Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality.

Summary from IISD

Moderated by Lily Riahi, UNEP, participants at this event engaged in three panel discussions.

In his opening address, Achim Steiner, Executive Director, UNEP, noted that the world is now in a “changing economy driven by environmental change,” and called on business stakeholders to work with others to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the transition to a green economy.

The panel discussion on building blocks for sustainable energy was introduced and moderated by Thibaud Voita, SE4All. François Moisan, Executive Director, French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME), drew attention to a fund dedicated to green renovation, and noted the agency’s support for green business solutions.

Hans Jørgen Koch, CEO, Nordic Energy Research, noted that CO2 emissions levels in Nordic countries have been stable over the last 25 years, and that in terms of carbon emissions from electricity production, the region was 25 years ahead of the rest of the world. Ismail Ibrahim, Chief Executive, Iskandar Region Development Authority, Malaysia, noted that, although the projections for energy use for Iskandar show a tripling in energy consumption, the city has policies to reduce energy consumption by 24% by 2025.

Olivier Biancarelli, ENGIE, highlighted the creation of a decentralized division for cities and territories which will focus on smart lighting, green buildings, smart security and efficient city operations; and noted the need for an integrated approach to green cities. Mark Watts, CEO, C40, noted the importance of peer-to-peer exchanges between cities, highlighting that this accelerates the uptake of best practice. He said the cities most successful at attracting investment are the ones that are most connected to the practices of other cities.

Célia Blauel, Deputy Mayor, Paris, introduced the session on district energy, noting the city’s work on the urban heating system mix, highlighting that it will lower consumers’ bills when fully implemented. Niels Christiansen, CEO, Danfoss, noted that in some developing countries, like China, it would be possible to provide household heating from excess heat from manufacturing industries. He stressed the importance of public-private partnerships to fully implement district energy goals.

Maryke van Staden, Executive Director, Carbonn Centre, ICLEI, noted the need for supporting national government policies and legislation to support the transition to district energy, and stressed the need for funding for local governments in developing countries to enable implementation.

Carlo Germano, Veolia, underscored that district energy is the backbone to which renewable energy technologies can be attached, and highlighted the importance of public-private partnerships with multiple stakeholders from each sector. He noted that most barriers to district energy are “manmade” and include lack of awareness which leads to poor planning.

Welcoming UNEP’s Global District Energy in Cities initiative, Stana Božović, State Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, Serbia, said that although the country still relies on oil and natural gas for heating, there are plans underway to transition to green sources such as geothermal energy and biomass.

Kimmo Tiilikainen, Minister of Agriculture and the Environment, Finland, introduced the panel discussion on delivering investment in carbon-neutral cities, noting that a US$26 trillion market would be created by building 26 smart cities in five years. Matthew Pencharz, Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, London, UK, highlighted the leveraging of financing for district energy in London.

Ulf Kamne, Vice Mayor, Gothenburg, Sweden, drew attention to green bonds as a means of financing the implementation of district energy, also noting their utility in convincing politicians of the profitability of green projects. Thabo Manyoni, Executive Mayor, Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, South Africa, highlighted his Office’s intention to buy green energy from private sector-run projects.

In closing, Kristian Jensen, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Denmark, stressed that as cities will play a major role in combating climate change and the global transition to a green economy, systems thinking is necessary to ensure that all challenges are adequately addressed.