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Cities can change the game: the fight against emissions and air pollution
Fossil fuel bans jump fivefold in 2020
The pandemic has thrown into stark relief the global battle of cities for cleaner air and a better future. The 2021 edition of REN21’s Renewables in Cities Global Status Report, the only stock-taking of cities’ energy transition efforts worldwide, shows that one billion people live in cities with a renewable energy target or policy,[i] The number of cities that have enforced partial or complete bans on fossil fuels jumped fivefold in 2020.[ii]
For the second year, REN21 takes the temperature of how cities worldwide use renewable energy to battle emissions to prevent air pollution and climate change.[iii] More than half of the global population lives in cities, which account for three-quarters of global final energy consumption.
“With their impact at scale, cities are our best bet to plan, develop and build a renewable future. But all too often their potential for transformation remains massively underused,” says REN21’s Executive Director, Rana Adib. “It’s a tough job to turn low-carbon ambitions into reality in built and densely packed environments. National governments must put money, capacity and above all legislative powers into the hands of local authorities.”
Cities must transition to renewables and set end dates for fossil fuels in all sectors
A critical factor for the success of cities’ climate strategies is to rapidly replace fossil fuels with renewable energy in heating and cooling as well as in transport. These sectors are responsible for the biggest share of global emissions, and they are best addressed at the local level.
The report shows that often, purchasing renewable electricity for the city’s own operations is one of the first steps local leaders take. But according to Adib, this is not enough. “Cities like Hamburg, San Francisco and Shanghai show, the more ambitious they are, the more they think of renewable energy everywhere. They impose strict building codes and renewable energy obligations. But most importantly, they set an end date to the use of gas, oil and coal.”
By 2020, 43 cities had done so and enforced fossil fuel bans in heating and/or transport, five times as many as in 2019.[iv] In total, one billion people – about one-quarter of the global urban population – live in cities with a renewable energy target or policy.[v] “But as inspiring as these examples are,” says Adib, “we are still a far cry from what is needed to curb climate change in time.”
A flavour of clean air and clear skies
Last year’s lockdowns with the sudden disappearance of traffic, the complete alteration of lifestyles resulting in cleaner air and less noisy environments, have given citizens a flavour of how alternatives to packed roads and polluted skies could look.
City leaders are now building on this momentum, moving away from polluting fossil fuels and building clean and resilient energy systems in their place. “Growing citizen support gives Santiago a real mandate to take action against climate change. Our residents demand that the government take bold measures,” explains Isabel Aguilera, Environmental Director for the city of Santiago (Chile).
The race towards renewables is an obstacle course
The Renewables in Cities 2021 Global Status Report also shows that besides emission reductions, many other local benefits await those who take their energy future into their own hands: from the creation of local jobs and welfare to greater quality of life and healthier citizens. “The transition to a zero-carbon economy presents tremendous economic development opportunities for Orlando and the Central Florida region, some that we are already beginning to see stimulate our local economy, improve public health, reduce environmental impacts, and create meaningful high-wage jobs for our residents,” says Mayor Buddy Dyer of the City of Orlando (Florida, USA).
Sometimes, like in recent examples from Japan and the Republic of Korea, city governments can even push national governments to be more ambitious.[vi] But, while the report features encouraging stories from all regions of the world,[vii] the large majority of cities have not yet figured out how to take ambitious action, or they lack the power and resources to do it.
“Provide cities around the world with support”
Even those who seem ready and willing to move forward, run into obstacles. All too often, powerful fossil fuel interests put a stop to cities’ decarbonisation plans.
“It’s a sad fact that wherever in the world cities seek to phase-out fossil fuels, the industry puts a lot of resources into fighting back.
“They take local authorities to court or, as seen recently in the US, convince state policymakers to make it legally impossible for cities to take such decisions at all,” says Adib.
Martina Otto, heading the cities work at the United Nations Environmental Programme, concludes: “There is huge untapped potential. We can both increase the level of ambition and progress in meeting national climate commitments if national and regional governments around the world provide cities with support well beyond the creation of better financial conditions. Getting over territorial boundaries to empower cities means unleashing the power of our strongest allies.”
About REN21 and the Renewables in Cities Global Status Report
REN21 is the only global renewable energy community of actors from science, governments, NGOs and industry. We provide up-to-date and peer-reviewed facts, figures and analysis of global developments in technology, policies and markets. Our goal: enable decision-makers to make the shift to renewable energy happen – now.
The Renewables in Cities Global Status Report is an annual stock-take of the global transition to renewable energy at the city-level. The 2021 edition has been co-authored by over 330 experts and is endorsed by an Advisory Committee of 20 organizations including city networks.
[i] 1,300 cities worldwide have either a renewable energy target or policy in place. Globally, over 830 cities in 72 countries have binding renewable energy targets and around 800 cities have implemented policies to help advance renewables in their cities. See table below for more details.
Selected countries with renewable energy targets, net-zero targets and/or policies in cities
|Cities with renewable energy targets||Cities with net-zero targets||Cities with renewable energy polices||Cities with renewable energy targets and/or policies||Share of urban population with renewable energy targets and/or policy (%)|
|Country||(#)||(% of global total)||(#)||(% of global total)||(#)||(% of global total)||(#)||(% of global total)|
|United States of America||337||40.4%||112||14.1%||357||44.7%||479||36.17%||28%|
|Republic of Korea||5||0.6%||2||0.3%||1||0.1%||5||0.4%||55%|
[ii] See data on fossil fuel bans below.
[iii] More than 10,500 cities globally had adopted CO2 emission reduction targets, and around 800 cities have committed to net-zero emissions in 2020 – up sharply from the 100 cities with such commitments in 2019.
[iv] See data on fossil fuel bans below.
[v] See endnote (i) above.
[vi] Local governments in Japan have been instrumental in pushing the national governments to commit to carbon neutrality and/or adopt net-zero targets. As part of the Korean Local Governments’ Action Alliance for Carbon-Neutrality, 226 local governments that had already declared a climate emergency by September 2020, pushed the national government to commit to carbon neutrality by 2050.
[vii] Data has been collected on hundreds of cities, ranging from mega-cities to small and medium size cities and towns. The report features specific case studies on: Adelaide (Australia); Palmas (Brazil); Recife (Brazil); Yaoundé IV (Cameroon); Cocody (Côte d’Ivoire); Rajkot (India); North Lombok Regency (Indonesia); Jakarta (Indonesia); Seoul (Republic of Korea); Dakar (Senegal); Cape Town (South Africa); Malmö (Sweden); Tsévié (Togo); Kampala (Uganda); Oxford (UK); Orlando, FL (USA).
Additional case studies that will be provided as supplements are: Vancouver (Canada) and Heidelberg (Germany).
Data about city-level fossil fuel bans
Summary: There are 66 cities worldwide with a proposed and/or passed fossil fuel bans for heating and cooling and/or transport. In total these 66 cities have 67 bans as 1 city has both a ban for buildings and one for transport. (Note: not all of them have been enforced yet). Regarding enforcement: 4 went into force before 2019, 4 went into force into 2019, and 35 went into force in 2020; for a total of 43 enforced in 2020. 20 will go into force in the future. Plus 4 for which there is no known enforcement date. Date of enactment: 11 were voted before 2019, 37 were voted in 2019, and 13 were voted in 2020. Plus 6 for which we have no date; for a total of 67.
|Country||City||Banned technology/fuel||Bans and restrictions in buildings||Vehicle bans and restrictions||Policy status||Year of enactment||Year of entry into force|
|Australia||Australian Capital Territory (Canberra)||N/A||X||Passed||2020||2025-2045|
|Austria||Vienna||Oil and gas heating||X||Passed||2020||2020|
|Netherlands, The||Amsterdam||Natural gas||X||Passed||2020||2020-2040|
|Poland||Krakow||Coal boiler, fuelwood in boilers, stoves and fireplaces||X||Passed||2013||2019|
|United Kingdom||London||Natural gas ban||X||Passed||2019||2019|
|United States||Alameda, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|United States||Albany, CA||Natural gas ban||X||Passed||2016||2020|
|United States||Berkeley, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|United States||Brisbane, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|United States||Brookline, MA||Oil and gas||X||Passed||2019||2021|
|United States||Burlingame, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|United States||Cambridge, MA||Natural gas||X||Proposed||2019||N/A|
|United States||Campbell, CA||Natural gas||X||Proposed||2020||N/A|
|United States||Carlsbad, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|United States||Cupertino, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|United States||Davis, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|United States||Hayward, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|United States||Healdburg, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|United States||Los Altos Hills, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|United States||Los Gatos, CA||Storage; natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|United States||Menlo Park, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|United States||Mill Valley, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|United States||Millbrae, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2019|
|United States||Milpitas, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|United States||Morgan Hilll, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|United States||Mountain View, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|United States||Newton, MA||Natural gas||X||Proposed||2019||N/A|
|United States||Oakland, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|United States||Ojai, CA||Natural gas||X||Proposed||2020||2020|
|United States||Pacifica, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|United States||Palo Alto, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|United States||Piedmont, PA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|United States||Redwood City, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2020||2020|
|United States||Richmond, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|United States||San Francisco, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2020||2020|
|United States||San Jose, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|United States||San Mateo, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|United States||Santa Cruz, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|United States||Santa Monica, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|United States||Santa Rosa, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|United States||Saratoga, CA||Natural gas||X||Proposed||2019||N/A|
|United States||Seattle, WA||Natural gas||X||Proposed||2020||2021|
|United States||Sunnyvale, CA||Solar; natural gas ban||X||Proposed||2019||2020|
|United States||Windsor, CA||Natural gas||X||Passed||2019||2020|
|Korea, Rep.||Seoul||Diesel and gasoline vehicles||X||Proposed||2020||2035|
|Netherlands, The||Amersfoort||ICE Vehicles||X||Passed||N/A||2021|
|Netherlands, The||Groningen||ICE Vehicles||X||Passed||N/A||2022|
|Spain||Barcelona||ICE Vehicles||X||Passed||N/A||2020 – 2021|
|United Kingdom||Bristol||Diesel Vehicles||X||Passed||2019||2021|
|United Kingdom||York||ICE Vehicles||X||Passed||2020||2023|
|United States||San Francisco, CA||ICE Vehicles||X||Proposed||2019||2030|
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Increase investment in Africa or miss the UN’s SDG deadline
A Standard Chartered survey conducted between July and August 2020, amongst a panel of the world’s top 300 investment firms with total assets under management (AUM) of more than USD50 trillion*, found that:
- Only 3% of their AUM is invested in Africa
- Lack of investment in emerging markets puts the chances of meeting the 2030 SDG deadline at risk
- Of those already investing in Africa, 93% say they will likely increase their investment in the future
The $50-trillion question investigates how some of the world’s largest asset managers – with a combined USD50 trillion in AUM – are investing at this critical time for the global economy and the environment.
Emerging markets are seeing a massive shortfall in investment
The risk posed by emerging markets was flagged as a major barrier to investment. More than two-thirds of investors believe emerging markets are high-risk, compared to 42% who believe the same for developed markets. More than half of the panel (53%) believe returns from investment in Africa are low or extremely low, with almost three in five investors (59%) saying that they are deterred from investing because they lack in-house specialist teams.
In contrast, those already investing in Africa are optimistic about the region, with 93% saying they are likely to increase investment in the future. 54% of Africa investors said their investments had performed as well as – or better than – their developed market investments over the past three years. The figure for emerging markets overall was 88%. However, Covid-19 may have made it even harder for emerging markets to get the investment they need. Some 70% of investors believe the pandemic has widened the capital gap further.
|Which markets are getting the most investment?|
Not enough investment is linked to the SDGs
The research points to a growing focus on sustainability, with 81% of investment firms now taking a disciplined approach to environmental, social and governance investment. However, this is not translating into investment in the SDGs. Only 13% of the assets managed by our respondents is directed towards SDG-linked investments. Some 55 % claim the SDGs are not relevant to mainstream investment and 47% say investment in the SDGs is too difficult to measure. However, one-fifth of investors admit that they were not aware of the SDGs. Respondents point to regulatory changes, favourable tax treatment, evidence of higher returns, better data for measuring impact, and increased demand from retail investors as the top five factors that might spur on more SDG investment.
|What are the tools and incentives to encourage SDG investment?|
|Regulation that encourages SDG-linked products||74%|
|Favourable tax treatment of SDG-linked investments||63%|
|More evidence that investing in SDGs will not lead to underperformance||63%|
|Better data to measure the impact of SDG investments||53%|
|Retail investor demand for SDG-themed investments||53%|
Sunil Kaushal, Regional CEO, Africa & Middle East, Standard Chartered said there is still investment gap in Africa to realise the SDGs and this creates an opportunity for us to make a difference where it matters the most.
“A significant surge in private-sector investment – alongside public investment and commitments – will be required to bridge the gap and hit the SDG targets over the next ten years. Right now Covid-19 has made the imperative to act even stronger in the region.”Sunil Kaushal, Regional CEO, Africa & Middle East, Standard Chartered
“There is no single answer to The $50-trillion Question, but it is evident that investors need to expand their focus beyond developed markets. Africa, and emerging markets generally, offers investors a unique opportunity: strong returns combined with the chance to have a significant, positive impact in the long term.”
The $50 Trillion Question study follows the publication of Opportunity2030: The Standard Chartered SDG Investment Map which first revealed the multi-trillion-dollar opportunity for private-sector investors to help achieve the SDGs in emerging markets.
*The $50 Trillion Question Investor Panel is made up of asset managers from the world’s top 300 asset management companies. With combined assets under management (AUM) worth more than USD50 trillion (the equivalent to half of global GDP), how the asset managers in our survey choose to invest will have a huge impact on humanity’s ability to solve some of the world’s biggest problems. This study is based on in-depth interviews with the panel, conducted between July and August 2020.
The below shows the panel broken down by AUM, role and location, all of which ensure it is representative of the global top 300 asset managers.
You can read the full Standard Chartered $50 Trillion Question report here.
|The $50-trillion investor panel|
|by AUM||by generalised job role||by location|
|19% are top 10 firms (over USD1 trillion) |
46% are top 11-50 Firms (USD1 trillion to USD350 billion)
23% are top 51-150 firms (USD350 billion to USD90 billion)
12% are top 151-300 firms (USD90 billion to USD20 billion)
|42% fund managers |
17% emerging market specialists
|42% are based in North America |
42% are based in Europe
8% are based in Japan
3% are based in China
5% are based elsewhere
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