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UNEP Side Event Summary on “Powering the Green City of Tomorrow: Efficient, Renewable Affordable", Bonn, 12 June 2014

UNEP´s side event “Powering the Green City of Tomorrow: Efficient, Renewable Affordable” was held 12 June in Bonn. The event showcased a number of existing climate solutions which can help cities move from conventional development to cleaner, sustainable and more resilient growth.

Nick Nuttall, UNFCCC Communications Coordinator, opened the event by saying that the role of urban centres in the fight against climate change was increasingly coming to the fore and had become an integral part of efforts under the UNFCCC to increase pre-2020 ambition and to build a meaningful 2015 climate agreement.

Verona Collantes of UN Women spoke about the importance of the gender dimensions of energy access and use. She stressed that it is a fundamental right - a human right - for women to have access to clean, affordable, sustainable energy. She explained that renewable energy brings several benefits to women, such as increases potential employment within the energy sector; reduction of unpaid work means more time for other productive activities and generate greater returns; including participation and leadership in decision-making; and contribution to better health for women and their families.

Ruud Kempener of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) summed up the key findings of a recent IRENA report according to which the global percentage of renewable energy could be more than doubled to 36% by the year 2030. Together with energy efficiency, renewables are instrumental in keeping the world below a maximum two degrees Celsius temperature rise. Most of the renewable installations and energy efficiency measures of the future, notably the better insulation of buildings, will be in urban centres.

John Christensen of the UNEP Risø Centre presented a key initiative of the UN’s Sustainable Energy for Alll initiative, the Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform. An excellent example of low cost, efficient technology with major mitigation potential is energy efficient lighting. Such technology alone can reduce global electricity demand for lighting by more than 32%, avoid 3.5 Gt of CO2 and save over USD 108 billion annually in avoided electricity bills to consumers.

Lucas Scherdel of Medsin UK and IFMSA, and representing WHO, spoke on the reasons why youth are calling for healthier, more resilient, sustainable cities. He explained cities can be made into hubs of opportunity and economic growth The social and economic co-benefits of increased renewable energy in cities are reducing emissions, improving air quality, prolonging life expectancy, promoting active public transport, reducing mortality from cardiovascular disease, and providing Green Spaces, therefore contributing to improvements in psychosocial well-being.

Maryke Van Staden of the global cities network ICLEI is advising numerous municipalities and the EU Commission on how to improve the greening of public services. She said that the potential for green public procurement is presently hugely underestimated. One example is the UK’s National Health Service, which has begun systematically procuring climate friendly products, thereby helping to green the UK’s national and municipal supply chains.

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