Prof. Dhakal speaks on transformative opportunities of urban system and infrastructure for zero-emission future in the context of Paris Agreement in a forum organized by APEC Sustainable Energy Center

The 7th Asia and Pacific Sustainable Energy Forum, 15-17 September, 2021

Energy Transition Solutions  Sub-forum

Energy Transition and Low Carbon Green Development

Beijing Time (GMT+8) 09:00-17:20, September 17, 2021

PowerPoint Slides are here.

Key points of presentation:

Global energy sector emissions growth has slowed in recent years and global share of fossil fuels is down from 73% in 1990 to 68% in 2018.

Expectations from energy sector in Net Zero Emission pathways is enormous.

Role of urban system and infrastructure in global emissions and future mitigation potentials is immense. Cities contribute, more than 54% of the global population, ~80% of global GDP, as a global economic engine, two-thirds of global energy consumption and more than 70% of annual global carbon emissions. Asian cities play a key part. By 2050 about 70% of the world’s population will live in cities. A massive growth in demand for direct urban energy in horizon, especially in the developing  world where per capita energy tends  to increase with urbanization. We also expect a massive growth in physical infrastructure thus impacting indirect/embodied energy use. Cities are key to  net-zero emission future. Decarbonisation of cities is a global priority, and it has special significance to achieving national commitments.

There are multi-dimensional ways of cities to influence energy and emission.

Opportunities for transformative change are enormous and multifaceted. These are: avoiding ‘lock-in’ in rapidly urbanizing regions, re-engineering the built cities, upscaling and addressing disruptive innovations, technologies and behaviour, recognizing digitalization as drivers for change early on, and bridging the mitigation potential’s policy and governance paradox.

However, key challenges needs to overcome such as: need to go beyond Incremental change to transformative change, system thinking looking urban as a holistic unit – instead of sectoral thinking, deploying far-reaching market-based solutions coupled with planning, such as pricing mechanism, overcoming the governance paradox and policy fragmentations, addressing energy and emission implications of cities to ‘outside’ its physical boundaries, smoothening the entry points: Demonstrating the best practice technologies, and local co-benefits of urban-scale mitigation actions.