Accelerating the uptake of energy efficiency and renewable energy in the global energy mix is the single biggest contribution to keep global temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius (°C) and to reap the multiple benefits of an inclusive green economy. Cities account for over 70 percent of global energy use and, 40 to 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Half of cities’ energy consumption is for heating and cooling. Any solution for the climate and energy transition must explicitly address sustainable urban heating and cooling, as well as electricity. One of the least-cost and most efficient solutions in reducing emissions and primary energy demand is the development of modern (climate-resilient and low-carbon) district energy in cities. To facilitate this energy transition, UNEP has initiated a new initiative on District Energy in Cities, as the implementing mechanism for the SE4ALL District Energy accelerator (see Figure 1). This advanced summary of the forthcoming UNEP publication, District Energy in Cities: Unlocking the Full Potential of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, in collaboration with the Copenhagen Centre on Energy Efficiency (C2E2), ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability) and UN-Habitat, is the first of a series of guidance documents and tools within the new District Energy in Cities Initiative.
This publication is among the first to provide concrete policy, finance and technology best practice guidance on addressing the heating and cooling sectors in cities through energy efficiency improvements and the integration of renewables. The report is also the first to consolidate data on the multiple benefits that cities, countries and regions have achieved through the use of modern district energy, in an effort to support evidence-based policy recommendations and to raise awareness of the significance of the heating and cooling sectors, which have been insufficiently addressed in the climate and energy debate.