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What Makes a City Smart?

The outlines of an autonomous car, 2017 (Photo by Automobile Italia) Creative Commons License via Flickr.

The outlines of an autonomous car, 2017 (Photo by Automobile Italia) Creative Commons License via Flickr.

By Sunny Lewis

NEW YORK, New York, October 2, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – By 2050 cities are forecast to be inhabited by 6.5 billion people, and making cities smarter to accommodate the population boom is on the minds of transportation experts around the world.

Intelligent traffic management systems, connected and autonomous electric vehicles, ride-hailing services, parking apps and all-electric public transit and commercial fleets promise benefits such as less congestion, improved access to transit and better air quality.

Cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) will serve as the foundation for vehicles to communicate with each other and everything around them, providing 360º non-line-of-sight awareness and a higher level of predictability for enhanced road safety and autonomous driving.

Smart City creation is dependent on the same technologies underlying the Internet of Things (Iot).

The IoT is expected to transform mobility with more ride-sharing, less road congestion and greater mobility for the disabled. Commercial fleets can run at non-peak hours, and autonomous vehicles operating through the IoT will use roads more efficiently, giving commuters more free time.

“Code is the new concrete for 21st century cities and we need a digital infrastructure to share data and create safer and more sustainable streets,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, a former commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation in the Bloomberg administration, and an advisor on transportation and urban issues.

Sadik-Khan supports the SharedStreets platform first funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and developed by the National Association of City Transportation Officials and the Open Transport Partnership.

SharedStreets is a neutral, anonymous clearinghouse for data collected by transportation providers, private companies and government agencies. It is a hub for data analysis, traffic planning, street design and development of new technologies for a smarter future.

“The SharedStreets platform offers cities and private sector players a powerful new data sharing tool to make that future possible,” says Sadik-Khan.

C40 Cities estimates that the global smart city market is expected to grow to $1.6 trillion within the next three years. But it will take citizen engagement, data sharing, and collaborations of all kinds, whether city-city, city-state, city-federal or public-private.

From Australia, Zoe Eather, host of The Smart City Podcast  and founding member of Smart Cities Council Emerging Innovators, says, “Smart will look different in different places, different projects and from different perspectives, but essentially we need to co-create a shared vision. A vision that is Smart, a vision where we focus on what the community wants/needs/desires and a vision where we utilize the most relevant and appropriate technology to enable this. We do this to make cities, spaces and places more accessible, livable and just cool places to be.”

Smart City Events This Fall Worldwide

  • Smart Cities Week is happening October 2-4 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC, organized by the Smart Cities Council.

This year’s theme is Collaboration: the cornerstone of the smart city.

Tracks this year include: Re-imagining transportation, Enlightened financing, The smart workforce, Data for civic good, and Smart infrastructure. All five tracks include sessions highlighting collaborations between city and city, city and state, city and federal, and public-private.

Jesse Berst, founder and chairman, Smart Cities Council, has explained smart cities this way, “You’re not really a Smart City until you’ve made all the aspects of urban life smart and you’ve interconnected them all. We’re not there yet; in each of those individual silos there are wonderful examples, but we haven’t put it all together. It’ll be 20 or 30 years and it’ll be an ongoing journey.”

Washington is not the only Smart Cities Week the Council is hosting. Smart Cities Week Silicon Valley took place May 7-9 in Santa Clara, California, attended by mayors from across the USA. A workshop on using the science of wellbeing to guide the evolution of a smart city was one of the most popular as participants learned how cities can leverage the power of data to improve livability, workability and sustainability.

  • On October 3-4 the TU-Automotive West Coast Conference is scheduled for San Jose, California in Silicon Valley. The event is organized by KNect365, a division of Informa, a multinational events and publishing company based in London, UK.

Public-private data partnerships are on the agenda, as is a workshop titled, Edge v Cloud: Processing the Data Hoard, which focuses on the transfer of data to make real-time decisions in connected and autonomous vehicles.

There’s a lot of interest in a workshop called, Blockchain: From Hype to Application, which will explore what Blockchain is and what this technology brings when applied to connected cars and mobility solutions.

Participants will learn how Blockchain allows the creation of digital ledgers with un-tamperable data, increasing transparency, security and preventing counterfeits by techniques such as putting tags in products.

They will learn to use Blockchain’s decentralization properties, how a network of nodes opens up to third parties and new services, and the benefits of running in totally decentralized ways.

  • On October 16-17, the ADAS and Autonomous Vehicles USA Conference is taking place at the Suburban Collection Showplace, a convention and expo center in Novi, Michigan, 20 miles west-northwest of Metro Detroit.

ADAS stands for advanced driver-assistance systems, and the event will focus on “the here and now of self-driving technology,” organizers say.

  • At the end of October, for three days, October 29-31, the Smart Cities Council is hosting Smart Cities Week Australia, in Sydney. The event will be filled with boardroom discussions on the smart state, cybersecurity, digital built environment and innovation districts; masterclasses on building your IoT strategy, creating public places and spaces of the future and engaging in next generation utilities; a showcase stage for innovators; and a research forum bringing government, academia and industry together to explore the role of research in accelerating smart cities.
  •  Smart Cities Summit is planned for October 29-30 in Atlanta, Georgia. This event, too, is organized by KNect365.

For the first time, Smart Cities Summit will be co-located with Internet of Things (IoT) events – both Industrial IoT World and the IoT Blockchain Summit, to provide more opportunities for shared learning and networking.

The Summit will explore 10 steps to smart city readiness; public-private partnerships, sustainable infrastructure, 5G, and ecomobility. Speakers will share insights on new disruptive technologies, innovation procurement and bringing together small and large cities to build on collaboration.

The event will focus on what makes a city more livable, sustainable, resilient, inclusive and smarter with a focus on people. It is intended to reinforce the smart community all over the world.

Five main topics are on the agenda: Digital Transformation, Urban Environment, Mobility, Governance and Finance, and Inclusive and Sharing Cities.

The Smart Mobility Congress, the International Integrated Water Cycle Show (Iwater), the Circular Economy European Summit and the Sharing Cities Summit will be held in parallel to the SCEWC, creating synergies between the co-located events.

“It’s the place to find ways together with cities to accelerate the deployment of smart city projects,” says Ralf Nejedl, senior vice president B2B Europe, Deutsche Telekom.

Smart City Explorations

“With the emergence of shared autonomous mobility, connected infrastructure, and smart city technologies, the prospects for an urban intermodal transportation ecosystem that is faster, cheaper, cleaner, and safer appear to be just over the horizon,” writes Doug Peeples, a Portland, Oregon-based writer, on the Smart Cities Council website.

Cities throughout the world have many approaches to integrated mobility:

In September 2016, New York City advanced to phases 2 and 3 of the Connected Vehicle Pilot program managed by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office, a national effort to deploy, test, and activate mobile and roadside technologies and enable multiple connected vehicle applications.

Phase 2 was a 20-month period to design, build, and test the wireless in-vehicle, mobile device, and roadside technologies. Phase 3 is an 18-month evaluation period where the effectiveness of the deployment will be tested. Both phases are being carried out on a $18.6 million award from the U.S. DOT under the Obama Administration.

Columbus, Ohio, winner of the U.S. DOT’s Smart City Challenge, will build a Smart Columbus Operating System to provide near-real-time data on traffic conditions throughout the city. The city will later expand the system to all smart city operations and services.

Singapore’s Intelligent Transport System keeps tabs on traffic congestion charges and electronic road pricing and monitors traffic with road sensors and GPS apps in taxis, and sends the information to a control center that relays that information to travelers.

Residents of Helsinki, Finland can use Whim, a Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) app, that allows them to plan their trips and pay for their rides – be it a bike, train, taxi, bus or car share.

The city of Cascais, Portugal, a popular travel destination, offers a similar service for residents and visitors. Several cities and private sector operators are looking at ways to adopt MaaS to their unique circumstances.

The city of Olympia, Washington, in April launched new parking management software and technology to make it easier for citizens to pay for parking permits and apply for them. The city is phasing in a Pay-by-Phone system that will allow payment by smart phone at city parking meters and notify users when the meter is about to expire so they can add time remotely.

The city of Dallas, Texas, is exploring ways to integrate smart technologies into street rehabilitation projects that could include smart-powered lanes to provide in-road charging for electric vehicles. Other options are traffic controls that regulate traffic lights according to traffic flow and LED street lights equipped with multiple sensors.

Chicago and AT&T have been working together on approaches and technologies to make the city more connected, smarter, livable and manageable. Chicago was one of the first cities selected for the smart cities program the company launched last year.

AT&T and Chicago will field test smart transit shelters that include free WiFi, digital displays that track and update bus arrival times and intelligent lighting. Smart kiosks will offer USB charging ports and touch screens that provide travel, weather and public safety information. For the pilot, three bus shelters and five kiosks will be installed around the city.

RUGGEDISED is a smart city project funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. It brings together three lighthouse cities: Rotterdam, Netherlands; Glasgow, Scotland; and Umeå, Sweden and three follower cities: Brno, Czech Republic; Gdansk, Poland; and Parma, Italy to test, implement and accelerate the smart city model across Europe.

Working in partnership with businesses and research centers, these six cities will demonstrate how to combine  information and communications technology (ICT), ecomobility and energy solutions to design smart, resilient cities.

“In order for urban data platforms to progress, cities must bridge this gap and have a clear vision about how to take the platform beyond just making data sources available, by connecting data sources with app developers and enabling the creation and exchange of value on the platform,” says Dr. Haydee Sheombar, research consultant and coach at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM).

Data from 34 European cities’ urban data platforms have been gathered and analyzed on the stage of development, the vision behind these platforms, the design of business and technology, implementation barriers and accelerators, and the platforms’ use and impact.

Each urban data platform exploits modern digital technologies to integrate data flows within and across city systems. They make data resources accessible to participants in a city’s ecosystem.

“Both technical and social contracts are crucial,” says RSM MSc student Denis Ceric, who researched citizen engagement in urban platforms in Rotterdam, Munich, and Barcelona. He says that before cities can encourage citizen engagement, their urban data platforms must first define the role of citizens and their understanding of ideas such as data ownership and privacy.

Connected vehicles communicate with each other and everything around them such as traffic lights, road signs and wearables. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Transportation) Public domain.

Connected vehicles communicate with each other and everything around them such as traffic lights, road signs and wearables. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Transportation) Public domain.

Mobility Providers Share Critical Data

Ford Motor Company and the ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft have made an unprecedented commitment to SharedStreets, a new data platform that makes it easier for the private sector to work with cities and leverage data to improve urban mobility.

The data sets pledged by the companies will provide the public and private sectors with new tools to manage curb space in order to reduce congestion and emissions that cause climate change; improve the efficiency of city streets by making it easier for everyone to get around; and save lives by preventing traffic crashes.

The public-private partnership is the result of a collaboration with NACTO, the Open Transport Partnership and Bloomberg Philanthropies, the consortium behind the innovative SharedStreets data platform.

This collaborative effort to build 21st-century streets was announced by Jim Hackett, Ford CEO; Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber, and John Zimmer, Co-founder and President of Lyft, on September 26 at the second annual Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York City.

The partnership gives mayors unparalleled access to road traffic data, allowing them to make better planning and investment decisions as shared and autonomous mobility arrive in their cities.

The agreement also fills a long-missing link for mobility companies by providing a common standard for sharing data across all cities, where local requirements vary widely.

Launched earlier this year with funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, SharedStreets is a universal data language for sharing information about city streets and a launching pad for public-private collaboration to manage streets, reduce traffic deaths, and prepare cities for the unprecedented technological advancement emerging in cities.

Already operating in over 30 cities around the world, the SharedStreets platform and this new partnership will provide city leaders with far-reaching new instruments for managing transportation networks.

Under the new partnership, Uber and Lyft will release vehicle speed data from cities around the world. With this data, cities can identify exactly where people are speeding or driving dangerously, so that they can redesign streets and save lives.

Uber will include this speed data in an update of its open-source Kepler.gl tool, providing cities everywhere with innovative new tools for data visualization and information sharing.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for business and government to work together to rethink transportation,” said Hackett. “Collaborating through initiatives such as Shared Streets will enable us to use vehicles, road systems and data together to create a new roadmap for mobility. We are working toward a future where all cities are smart and curb space is actively managed, increasing efficiency and safety, while reducing driver stress and pollution.”

For the first time, the SharedStreets platform overcomes long-standing legal, regulatory and technological barriers between the public and private sectors by converting today’s ad hoc, disparate transportation data sources into a mutually readable, shared, global standard.

“The private and public sectors need to come together and collaborate on ways to create smarter, safer and more efficient transportation systems,” said Uber’s Khosrowshahi. “It’s the responsibility of companies like ours to step up and support cities in every way we can – whether that’s through data sharing, urban planning research, funding for nonprofits, or even through the introduction of new and more efficient forms of transportation like electric bicycles.”

“Lyft is in a unique position to drive positive change within our cities, and we take that responsibility seriously” said Lyft’s Zimmer. “We look forward to collaborating with regulators to expand affordable mobility options, taking cars off the road and reducing congestion, and ultimately reshaping cities around people – not cars.”

In addition to launching the new tools and partnerships, NACTO, representing 74 cities and transit agencies across North America, and global cities from Paris to Melbourne, formally endorsed the data sharing policies of SharedStreets, committing to working collaboratively with the private sector.

Michael Bloomberg said, “Ride-share and auto companies have been gathering an enormous amount of data on transportation and traffic. Now, cities will be able use it to find new ways to manage congestion, reduce carbon emissions, prevent traffic crashes, and prepare for the arrival of autonomous vehicles.”

5G, the Key to Smart Cities

Fast download speeds are the start; the fifth-generation wireless network can put smart city transformation into overdrive.

The next big leap in telecommunications, 5G performance targets include high data rate, reduced latency, energy saving, cost reduction, higher system capacity and massive device connectivity.

T-Mobile US has plans to build 5G networks in 30 cities this year and launch those commercially in 2019.

In Sweden, the RUGGEDISED Lighthouse city of Umeå has been chosen as the country’s first 5G city. Erasmus University will be the first 5G university in Europe.

5G technology can manage large amounts of data in new and more advanced ways. It gives extremely fast connections with very low delay and improved security compared to what current networks can offer, at a lower cost with reduced energy consumption.

“5G is a big leap in wireless communications that will open up a world in which everything can communicate with each other,” says Channa Seneviratne, executive director of network infrastructure engineering at Telstra, Australia’s largest telecommunications company.

Seneviratne says 5G is fundamental to autonomous vehicles because, “AVs will be able to connect with everything around them such as traffic lights, road signs and wearables, and make better safety decisions as a result.”

Seneviratne says 5G networks will “bring the smart city to life.”


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Cities Pledge Net Zero Carbon New Buildings by 2030

The Science and Technology Facility at the U.S. National Renewable Energy Lab is a 100 percent net zero energy building where solar cell, thin-film, and nanostructure research are conducted, 2018, Golden, Colorado (Photo courtesy NREL) Public domain.

The Science and Technology Facility at the U.S. National Renewable Energy Lab is a 100 percent net zero energy building where solar cell, thin-film, and nanostructure research are conducted, 2018, Golden, Colorado (Photo courtesy NREL) Public domain.

By Sunny Lewis

LONDON, UK, September 4, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – Nineteen pioneering mayors, representing 130 million urban residents, have committed their cities to cut greenhouse gas emissions by ensuring that all new buildings operate at net zero carbon by 2030.

By joining the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment of the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), the leaders of: Copenhagen; Johannesburg; London; Los Angeles; Montreal; New York City; Newburyport, Massachusetts; Paris; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco; San Jose; Santa Monica; Stockholm; Sydney, Tokyo; Toronto; Tshwane, South Africa; Vancouver, Canada; and Washington, DC, also pledged to ensure all buildings in their cities, old and new, will meet the net zero carbon standard by 2050.

The Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment will officially launch at the Global Climate Action Summit <globalclimateactionsummit.org>in San Francisco, California on September 13, 2018.

A zero carbon building is one with zero net energy consumption or zero net carbon emissions on an annual basis.

Commitment signatories will track, verify and report publicly on building performance metrics with a focus on energy use and associated emissions. They will advocate across their supply chains for all suppliers and partners to establish and follow their own commitments to reach net zero by 2030.

Delivering on commitments made now will require a united effort, as city governments do not have direct control over all the buildings in a city. This commitment includes a pledge to work together with state and regional governments and the private sector to drive this transformation, and calls on national governments for equal action.

In June, WorldGBC celebrated the first three founding private sector signatories of the commitment, among them Majid Al Futtaim, a pioneer in shopping mall, retail and leisure destinations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Majid Al Futtaim, an Emirati holding company based in Dubai, has committed to eliminating operational carbon emissions from all its assets across 15 countries by 2030, including more than 12 malls and shopping centres, 12 hotels and three mixed-use living communities. Their corporate strategy drives emission reductions by requiring green energy leases for mall retail units.

The other two founding private sector signatories are Integral Group, a global engineering firm specializing in delivery of net zero buildings, and Signify formerly known as Philips Lighting – the lighting company for the Internet of Things. With a presence in over 70 countries, Signify has committed to net zero carbon for all its more than 300 buildings.

By setting ambitious absolute targets, the Commitment aims to maximize the chances of limiting global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, as specified in the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate, by reducing operating emissions from buildings.

Globally, almost 40 percent of energy related greenhouse emissions come from buildings, with 28 percent coming from the operations of buildings themselves. This equals the total emissions of China and the European Union combined.

In 2015, 82 percent of final energy consumption in buildings was supplied by fossil fuels, whereas to meet the Paris Agreement, this must become zero percent.

The WorldGBC definition of a net zero carbon building is a one that is highly energy efficient and fully powered by renewable energy sources, either on-site or off-site.

Urban buildings are some of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and typically account for over half of a city’s total emissions.

In London, Los Angeles and Paris, buildings account for well over 70 percent of the cities’ overall emissions, creating an enormous opportunity for progress on bringing emissions down.

Currently, half a million people die prematurely each year due to outdoor air pollution caused by energy used in buildings, according to research prepared for the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis by a team led by Diana Ürge-Vorsatz of the Central European University, Hungary – Fagship-Projects.

The Commitment has been orchestrated by C40 Cities, a global group of major cities committed to delivering on the most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement at the local level. This pledge from cities is part of the World Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment for businesses, cities, states and regions, which opened for recruitment in June.

Cities making this commitment will:

  • Establish a roadmap for our commitment to reach net zero carbon buildings;
  • Develop a suite of supporting incentives and programs;
  • Report annually on progress towards meeting our targets, and
  • Evaluate the feasibility of reporting on emissions beyond operational carbon, such as refrigerants.

In addition, 13 cities: Copenhagen, Johannesburg, Montreal, Newburyport, Paris, Portland, San Jose, Santa Monica, Stockholm, Sydney, Toronto, Tshwane and Vancouver, have committed to owning, occupying and developing only assets that are net-zero carbon by 2030.

To achieve this, cities will:

  • Evaluate the current energy demand and carbon emissions from their municipal buildings, and identify opportunities for reduction.
  • Establish a roadmap for their commitment to reach net zero carbon municipal buildings
  • Report annually on progress towards meeting their targets, and
  • Evaluate the feasibility of including emissions beyond operational carbon, such as refrigerants.

C40 Cities Executive Director Mark Watts blogged earlier this year, “By 2030 the majority of privately owned buildings will need to have been retrofitted to high energy efficiency standards in all categories of cities except the two lowest income groupings, where the primary focus is on new build. In the two highest income categories, 95-100 percent of privately owned buildings will have been retrofitted.”

Watts wrote, “…it is possible for major cities to decarbonise fast and deeply enough to meet the Paris Agreement goals. But there is now an incredible urgency to get on track.”

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has launched a major initiative to support the development of zero-energy building. Led by Gregory Hayes, the CEO of United Technologies, and Eric Olsen, Chairman of Lafarge, the organization has the support of large global companies and the expertise to mobilize the corporate world and governmental support to make zero-energy building a reality.

Their first report, a survey of key players in real estate and construction, indicates that the costs of building green are overestimated by 300 percent.

Climate and carbon, human health and high technology are among the top trends expected to drive the global green building market in 2018.

Green Building Council of Australia’s Chief Executive Officer Romilly Madew said, “In 2018, the UN will undertake a global stock take of emissions reduction actions and progress, and signatories to the Paris Agreement will be required to demonstrate their progress towards accelerating emissions reductions.”

Romilly says this stock taking will “undoubtedly reveal the leaders and laggards on climate action, and will put pressure on national governments to step up.”

Terri Wills, CEO, World Green Building Council, said, “Achieving net zero carbon buildings at the mass scale required is complex, multi-faceted and challenging.

“Whether developed as a new standard, adapting an existing certification scheme, or developing a compliance pathway in collaboration with national government,” said Wills, “these voluntary standards provide an opportunity for companies to embrace net zero carbon buildings as business as usual.”

Featured Image: Tokyo, Japan, a city of 13 million people, is one of the cities that has committed to having all new buildings operating at net zero carbon by 2030. July 26, 2018 (Photo by diamory) Creative Commons license via Flickr


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Cities Seek US$1 Trillion for Low-Carbon Construction

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Women at the C40 Financing Sustainable Cities Forum, from left: Naoko Ishii, CEO and chairperson of the Global Environment Facility; Sue Tindal, chief financial officer at Auckland Council; Val Smith, director, Corporate Sustainability at Citi; Shirley Rodrigues, Deputy Mayor of London for Environment and Energy.

By Sunny Lewis

LONDON, UK, April 12, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – The world’s largest cities are not sitting around waiting for national governments to hand them a climate-safe future. They are taking the initiative to build their own low-carbon opportunities.

To address climate change arising from urban development, there are over 3,000 low-carbon infrastructure projects in the planning stages across a network of 90 of the world’s megacities known as C40 Cities .

Cities have reported costs for just 15 percent of these projects, but even this small percentage amounts to US$15.5 billion in required investment.

There are 90 megacities in the C40 Cities network. They include: Durban, Nairobi, Lagos, and Addis Ababa in Africa; Delhi, Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Tokyo, in Asia; Auckland, New Zealand in Oceana; Amman, Jordan in the Middle East; Copenhagen, Paris, Rome, London, Berlin, Athens and Amsterdam in Europe; Bogota, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and Buenos Aires in South America; and in North America, Houston, New York, San Francisco, Washington, DC, and Vancouver.

Roughly one in every 12 people in the world lives in a C40 city, and these 90 cities generate about one-quarter of the world’s wealth, as expressed by GDP, or Gross Domestic Product.

These numbers highlight an enormous opportunity for collaboration between cities and the private sector to invest in sustainable projects, and also the need to accelerate investment and development in sustainable infrastructure to deliver a climate-safe future.

Rachel Kyte, chief executive, Sustainable Energy for All, an initiative of the United Nations Secretary-General, has said, “Buildings account for one-third of global energy use and with cities growing rapidly, there’s an urgent need for partnerships that help cities and citizens use energy better.”

Recent C40 research, contained in the report “Deadline 2020,” estimates that C40 cities need to spend US$375 billion over the next four years on low carbon infrastructure in order to be on the right track to meet the ambition of the Paris Agreement on Climate that took effect in November 2016.

Under this agreement, world governments pledged to keep Earth’s temperature increase to less than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Deadline 2020” estimates before 2050, C40 cities will need to invest over US$1 trillion on new climate action and in renewing and expanding infrastructure to get on the trajectory required to meet the goal of the Paris Agreement.

But how are the megacities to attract this mega-investment?

On April 4, the C40 Financing Sustainable Cities Forum gathered over 200 delegates from cities, investors, national governments, academics, private sector experts, civil society groups and technology providers to identify the key barriers in financing sustainable urban infrastructure.

The Forum was hosted in London by the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and the Greater London Authority, with the support of the Citi Foundation and World Resources Institute’s Ross Center for Sustainable Cities.

City action can deliver 40 percent of the Paris goal,” Mark Watts, executive director, C40 Cities, said at the Forum.

Participants looked at unlocking finance for low-carbon investments in cities. They agreed that cities must improve project development information in order to accelerate climate action, a conclusion articulated in a new report, “The Low Carbon Investment Landscape in C40 Cities.

They recognized that accessing and attracting finance are some of the biggest barriers that mayors face in delivering their climate change plans, especially in developing countries and emerging economies with a lack of expertise in securing investment.

To help solve this problem, the C40 Cities Finance Facility was launched during COP21, the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, where the Paris Agreement on Climate was approved by world governments.

The C40 Cities Finance Facility will provide US$20 million of support by 2020 to help unlock and access up to US$1 billion of additional capital funding, by providing the connections, advice and legal and financial support to enable C40 cities in developing and emerging countries to develop more financeable projects.

For developing markets, public-private partnerships are key to getting sustainable projects off the ground,” said Val Smith, director, Corporate Sustainability at Citi.

But the financial industry tells C40 Cities that they are experiencing a lack of corporate understanding of the low carbon technology being deployed.

They lack understanding of the financing models cities use to fund low carbon infrastructure and, in addition, financiers are seeing inadequate capacity within city governments to form partnerships and collaborate on sustainable infrastructure projects.

CDP’s Matchmaker program aims to overcome these challenges by engaging cities early in the project development process and standardizing how these projects are disseminated to the market.

CDP, formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project, is a not-for-profit that runs the global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states and regions to manage their environmental impacts.

Since the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015, CDP says they have seen a 70 percent increase in cities disclosing their carbon emissions.

CDP says this year’s disclosures reveal that many cities are actively looking to partner with the private sector on climate change. Cities highlighted a total 720 climate change-related projects, worth a combined US$26 billion, that they want to work with business on.

Matchmaker will publicize these low-carbon infrastructure projects to CDP’s growing number of investor signatories that currently represent over US$100 trillion in assets.

And these are by no means all of the opportunities for sustainable investment in urban low-carbon construction.

On April 4, at a meeting of the Sustainable Energy for All Forum in New York City April 3, five new cities and districts committed to improve their buildings by adopting new policies, demonstration projects and tracking progress against their goals.

They joined the Building Efficiency Accelerator (BEA), a public-private collaboration that now includes over 35 global organizations and 28 cities in 18 countries.

The cities and districts joining the BEA are Kisii County, Kenya; Merida, Mexico; Nairobi City County, Kenya; Pasig City, Philippines; and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

World Resources Institute (WRI) leads the BEA, convening businesses, nonprofits and multilateral development organizations to support local governments in implementing policies and programs that make their buildings more efficient.

Jennifer Layke, global director, Energy Program, World Resources Institute, encapsulated the push for sustainable construction, saying, “People want schools, homes, and offices that are healthy and comfortable without the burden of high energy costs due to inefficiency. Prioritizing efficiency in buildings can save money and reduce pollution. Our new Building Efficiency Accelerator partners are signaling their intent to avoid the lock-in of decades of inefficient development.

Supporting these new members are ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, the India Green Building Council, the Kenya Green Building Society, Pasig and WRI Mexico.

We must transform our urban systems to meet the challenges of sustainability and climate,” said Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility, a funding organization. “Through this partnership, we can provide awareness raising, policy advice and technology transfer directly to sub-national governments ready to take action.”

Follow C40 Cities on Twitter


Featured Image: Duke Energy Center in Charlotte, North Carolina is a LEED Certified Platinum building, the highest sustainability rating awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council. (Photo by U.S. Green Building Council) Posted for media use

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Cities Show Strong Climate Leadership in Paris

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UPDATE December 4, 2015 : For 2015 winners list visit: City Climate Leadership Awards 2015

PARIS, France, December 3, 2015 (Maximpact News) – Cities consume roughly 80 percent of the world’s energy production, and they are responsible for up to 70 percent of global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, according to German government figures. So, while cities are big contributors to climate change, at the same time they offer great potential for emission reductions.

At the UN climate talks in Paris, known as COP21, short for 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, cities and their mayors are playing a leading role.

Demonstrating their commitment to an ambitious global climate solution, the Compact of Mayors is the world’s largest coalition of city leaders addressing climate change. They are pledging to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, tracking their progress and preparing for the impacts of climate change.

The Compact of Mayors was launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City.

The Compact of Mayors operates under the leadership of the world’s global city networks – C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group , ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, and the UCLG – United Cities and Local Governments, with support from UN-Habitat, the UN’s lead agency on urban issues.

Thousands of mayors and local leaders will come together in Paris, from December 3-8, to strengthen the voices of local and regional governments, mobilized by the UCLG network of Regional Sections, Committees and partners.

“In cities, the Road to Paris began more than a decade ago. In 2015, as we come together as a global community around the COP21 negotiating table, cities are factoring into the climate equation in a big way,” said Eduardo Paes, C40 Chair and Mayor of Rio de Janeiro.

In August, Rio became the world’s first city to be fully compliant with the Compact of Mayors, the world’s largest common platform for cities to report their emissions, set targets and develop plans to cut emissions and prepare for the effects of climate change.

“This past year has seen the global significance of cities brought to the fore, with much applause for the decisive work of mayors, and the crucial impact the world’s megacities have on our global future,” said Paes.

Now that Rio has led the way, other cities are following the low-carbon path.

Late last month, ICLEI announced the full compliance of 20 local governments, who join the previous 11 cities that have achieved this status – Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Melbourne, New York, Oslo, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, Stockholm, Sydney and Washington, DC.

These 20 new cities and towns, supported by ICLEI in reporting full compliance, represent 30.77 million inhabitants from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and Oceania.

Among them, Seoul is the city of Mayor Park Won-soon, the president of ICLEI who has been advocating for cities and towns around the globe to join the Compact of Mayors since taking on his presidency in April.

Another highlight is New Taipei City on the island of Taiwan, the first city in Asia to achieve full compliance.

This year’s annual C40 Cities Awards will be handed out during the COP21 meeting in Paris. Their goal is to share replicable best practices across cities, while drawing attention to outstanding performances that have achieved a high level of environmental success in a challenging context.

The C40 Cites Award winner will be announced at the gala event tonight in Paris. Whichever city, wins, each of the 33 finalists, including Paris, is extraordinary in its own way.

The Paris Greening Program is a key part of Paris’s Climate and Energy action plan, its first city-wide adaptation plan.

Creating more green spaces in one of the densest cities in the world is both a challenge and an opportunity to tackle the urban heat island effect, grow food, develop biodiversity corridors and create new social spaces.

The Paris Greening Program requires green roofs on all new buildings. One hundred additional hectares of roofs and facades will be green, and a third of them will be used for the production of fruit and vegetables. There will be 30 hectares of new green spaces, and 20,000 more trees will be planted in Paris.

Cities have been early adopters of low-carbon standards. By June 2015 cities and regions had reported over 1,000 energy and climate commitments, 5,201 climate actions and 1,099 inventories of greenhouse gas emissions.

The aggregated greenhouse gas emissions from local and subnational government operations are greater than those of any of the corporations in the top 10 of the UK Emissions Trading Scheme.

Fifteen local governments have committed to carbon neutrality or 100 percent renewable energy between 2020 and 2050, including Copenhagen, Denmark and Vancouver, Canada.

Mayor Gregor Robertson, just elected for his third term as mayor of Vancouver, says that Vancouver can meet all of its energy needs with 100 percent renewable sources of power, as part of becoming the greenest city in the world by 2020.

Even though Vancouver is already recognized as one of the most livable cities in the world, its environmental footprint is currently three times larger than the planet can sustain. Robertson and his team began their work at the beginning of 2009, when he assembled the Greenest City Action Team.

Today, the Greenest City Action Plan is one of the most rigorous roadmaps of any city in the world, ensuring transparency and accountability as it follows 10 long-term goals, with 15 measurable and ambitious targets for 2020.

Robertson wants to ensure that citizens are guaranteed clean air, a healthy economy, strong communities and energy security.

Robertson’s plan is also a beacon for cities around the world by demonstrating how going green is good for the economy, the community and the environment. Mayor Robertson’s work has received international recognition, as demonstrated by his recent invitation to join Pope Francis and other world mayors at the Vatican to address climate change and social justice.

Vijay Nehra, Municipal Commissioner of Rajkot, India, underlined the urgency of action by citing the recent casulties in his city due to heat waves.

Rajkot is currently addressing the problem by analyzing its greenhouse gas inventory which pointed out that 68 percent of the city’s energy is used in the provision of water, noting that much needs to be done to make the system more efficient. Rajkot is one of the model cities of Urban LEDS Project and District Energy Cities initiative of the UN Environment Programme and has already expressed intent to comply with the Compact of Mayors.

Mercè Rius, president for the environment of Barcelona, Spain said, “Barcelona and Catalonia are committed to further strengthen partnerships and cooperation across cities and regions and various cross-cutting initiatives, including the Compact of Mayors and actively contribute in the global advocacy of local and subnational governments.”

Local and subnational governments are leading the way at COP21 in Paris through the Transformative Actions Program – a new initiative to accelerate ambitious, cross-cutting and inclusive local climate actions by supporting climate investment in urban areas over the next 10 years.

The TAP is acting to create trust among sub-national governments, financing institutions and investors to lower the current perception of risk.

The TAP has selected 100 projects from cities around the world to be presented at the COP21, attracting and increasing funding for transformative actions.

At COP21, the TAP’s first pavilion provides a physical space for exchange, with selected presentations of the first 100 proposed projects to national delegations, private and international donors and financing agencies.


Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.

Featured image: Vancouver City And Park. Photo courtesy of Commons Wikimedia
Main image: The Paris Greening Programme is a key part of Paris’s Climate and Energy action plan, its first city-wide climate adaptation plan. Photo courtesy C40 Cities