Over 100 Cities now mostly Powered by Renewables

image showing geothermal plant in Iceland producing power from geothermal energy

The number of cities getting at least 70% of their total electricity supply from renewable energy has more than doubled since 2015

The number of cities reporting they are predominantly powered by clean energy has more than doubled since 2015, as momentum builds for cities around the world to switch from fossil fuels to renewable sources.

Data published on Tuesday by the not-for-profit environmental impact researcher CDP found that 101 of the more than 570 cities sourced at least 70% of their electricity from renewable sources in 2017, compared to 42 in 2015.

Nicolette Bartlett, CDP’s director of climate change, attributed the increase to both more cities reporting to CDP as well as a global shift towards renewable energy.

The data was a “comprehensive picture of what cities are doing with regards to renewable energy,” she told Guardian Cities.

That large urban centres as disparate as Auckland, Nairobi, Oslo and Brasília were successfully moving away from fossil fuels was held up as evidence of a changing tide by Kyra Appleby, CDP’s director of cities.

“Reassuringly, our data shows much commitment and ambition,” she said in a statement. “Cities not only want to shift to renewably energy, but, most importantly – they can.”

Much of the drive for climate action at city level in the past year has been spurred on by the global covenant of more than 7,400 mayors that formed in the wake of Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris accord.

Burlington, Vermont, was the only US city reporting to CDP that sourced all of its power from renewable sources after having fully transitioned in 2015. Research from the Sierra Club states there are five such cities in the US in total.

Burlington is now exploring how to become zero-carbon.

Mayor Miro Weinberger said to CDP that its shift to a diverse mix of biomass, hydro, wind and solar power had boosted the local economy, and encouraged other cities to follow suit. Across the US 58 towns and cities, including Atlanta and San Diego, have set a target of 100% renewable energy.

In Britain, 14 more cities and towns had signed up to the UK100 local government network’s target of 100% clean energy by 2050, bringing the total to 84. Among the recent local authority recruits were Liverpool City Region, Barking and Dagenham, Bristol, Bury, Peterborough, Redcar and Cleveland.

But the CDP data showed 43 cities worldwide were already entirely powered by clean energy, with the vast majority (30) in Latin America, where more cities reported to CDP and hydropower is more widespread.

In the six months to July, Latin American cities reported having instigated $183m of renewable energy projects – less than Europe ($1.7bn) or Africa ($236m). Europe topped the list for projects open for investment, but laid claim to just 20% of the 101 cities to be predominantly powered by clean energy.

The Icelandic capital Reyjkavik, sourcing all electricity from hydropower and geothermal, was among them. It is now working to make all cars and public transit fossil-free by 2040.

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