Renewable Energy Policies for Cities

17 May 2021 |Virtual

The global energy transition must be accelerated in order to decarbonise the energy sector by the middle of this century and meet the climate objectives of the Paris Agreement. National-level policies play a crucial role in making the transition a reality, by investing in and enabling the deployment of renewable energy technologies, along with energy efficiency improvements and greater energy system flexibility. But cities are also essential actors in this process.

Just over half of the world's population (4.8 billion people in 2018) lives in cities. By 2050, the absolute number of urban residents is expected to nearly double, and the share may grow to 68% according to UN estimates. As engines of the economy and migration magnets, cities already account for 65% of global energy use and 70% of human-made carbon emissions. Urban-level energy planning and decision-making are therefore critical to the success of the energy transition. The transition can support local economic development objectives and will boost urban resilience in the face of challenges like climate change, air pollution, supply uncertainties and price volatility.

In a variety of roles, cities are uniquely positioned to promote renewable energy. Municipal authorities are energy planners and regulators (e.g., with regard to urban zoning, building permits, and solar ordinances). They also have a financial role to play (e.g., levying local fees, providing low-interest loans, or issuing municipal green bonds). Finally, cities are often important owners or operators of energy-generating facilities and related urban infrastructure.

Since 2013, IRENA has examined policies for renewable energy deployment in cities, published a series of short case studies of cities around the world, and generated a number of technical tools and planning platforms.

IRENA has launched a set of new reports and briefs on Renewable Energy Policies for Cities. They analyse policy experiences around the world, offer case studies of selected cities in China, Uganda and Costa Rica, and discuss sectoral challenges and opportunities in the power sector, buildings, and transport. This webinar presented main findings, with a view toward the motivations and objectives that compel cities to act; the variety of drivers that either enable or constrain cities' actions and thus influence what they can do; and the policy tools they can apply. Shaped by these factors, cities can play a multitude of roles.

The webinar also featured a brief presentation of IRENA findings, a panel discussion among experts, and provide an opportunity for audience questions.

Presentation slides can be accessed here.