REN21's latest report on the state of renewable energy globally is out. The group believes that a rapid transition to renewable energy and energy efficiency can literally turn the climate tide. Three quarters of the world live in urban areas and 25% of those have renewable energy target commitments for the population. The is 1 billion of us.
Against the backdrop of rising global climate movements, citizens have been exerting pressure on governments to adopt stricter local climate and energy policies. Partly in response to this, by the end of 2020 a record 1,852 municipal governments in 29 countries had declared climate emergencies – up from just 1,400 in 2019.
IN MANY WAYS IT MAKES SENSE THAT MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENTS - COUNCILS - ARE SEEMINGLY THE MOST RESPONSIVE TO CITIZENS. THEY ARE AFTER ALL THE CLOSEST GOVERNANCE TO ACTUAL PEOPLE.
Cities account for around 3/4 of global final energy consumption (and for a similar share of global energy-related CO2 emissions), and they are home to more than 55% of the global population.
Although target-setting in cities has focused on the power sector (around 75% of the targets), city-level policies and investments go beyond power to include heating, cooling and transport. By the end of 2020, around 800 municipal governments had in place regulatory policies, fiscal and financial incentives, as well as indirect support policies which enable the uptake of renewables in buildings and transport city-wide. In transport, municipal policies supporting electrification, notably public procurement and financial subsidies, have expanded beyond buses to support electric taxis, scooters and individual vehicles.
Every country, state and city are different. There are for instance a growing number of low-emission zones and city-level bans or restrictions on certain fuels or vehicles – in place or planned in 249 and 14 cities respectively.
Given Australia's love of fossil fuels, it's an open secret that we lag in the focus on electrification of transport, but we certainly aren't complete renewables luddites. More than 2.66 million, or 21%, of Australian households now have rooftop solar PV, with a combined capacity exceeding 15 GW and powering over 3% of the entire grid.
Many of our councils have declared climate emergencies, have extensive renewables policies in place and Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide cities are powered solely by renewables and extensive policies. Adelaide is included as one of the REN21 Case Studies covering of their extensive renewables integration since 2016.
Access to solar for homeowners has never been easier with even Ikea now selling panels and installation.