The past 29th June we had the pleasure to host our first session at World Urban Forum Eleventh Session in Katowice (Poland). Building sustainable, secure and resilient energy systems at scale through local action gathered speakers from the SESA consortium and guests actively working on the topic.
The moderation was in charge of SESA coordinator Giorgia Rambelli, Coordinator Climate Policy and Energy Governance, ICLEI European Secretariat; Lea Ranalder, Associate Programme Management Officer, UN-Habitat; Rana Adib, Executive Director, REN21; Rohit Sen, Head, Sustainable Energy ICLEI World Secretariat; Joseph Oganga, Chief Officer Department of Energy and Industrialisation, Kisumu County, Kenya; And, Dr. Oliver Lah, Head of Research Unit Mobility and International Cooperation, Energy, Transport and Climate Policy , Professor at Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy.
Speakers discussed technologies and solutions for sustainable energy systems, with the goal of accelerating energy access and increasing resilience to climate change. We present you with some highlights from our session to reflect about the actions we must take to ensure that innovative local energy solutions can be accessed by communities in order to guarantee their social and economic development.
We need a reality check. We have made great progress when it comes to SDG 7, but are not on track to reach the 2030 goals. We have made barely any progress on renewable energy in the last 10 years. Energy demand has expanded in the past few years.We are actually have record numbers of coal when it comes to electricity consumption. The coal phase out we were discussing at COP is not happening and it is the vulnerable and poor who will be hit the most. The good news is that cities as be key actors in the energy transition are taking action. They are procuring renewables for energy consumption, improving public transport, pooling their resources, building coeds, and using both their regulatory and their facilitatory potential to bring about change.
150 countries are subsidising fossil fuels. We are spending 11.000 dollars per minute on fossil fuels. There are much more opportunities to use renewables and they have much more potential than we think, but we are creating market rules, that not allow us to thrive on those opportunities. Renewables allow citizens and city governments to not only be energy consumers, but also energy producers. Yet, the reality is that only 9% of cities over 250.000 inhabitants have net zero targets.
On practical day to day to level, we need to bring many actors together, including the business sector.For example, when we talk about. developments for e-mobility, we need to have integration between mobility and energy systems and combine business solutions for mobility and energy access, through capacity building. It#s a long journey. There are a few project, like SESA, through which we are creating a viability check. These are reference points for further scaling up. We see that there is potential to graduate to next level by engaging the private sector and leveraging as much as possible what is already on the ground.
When we talk about technological solutions, it is important to understand that while access to technology is not evenly divided across the world, technology is evolving. For example, solar panels have evolved from being heavy structures, to being flexible. We don’t know how the technology is going to be in 2030, it might be better or more efficient. We do know that cities need to work together with all stakeholders, and also focus on citizens and behavioural change. We cannot expect that if we build cycling paths in New Delhi or Dhaka, they will be used in the same way as in Europe. We need to take citizen behaviour into account.