Quantcast
Business

96 Cities That Are Quitting Fossil Fuels and Moving Toward 100% Renewable Energy

While countries have dragged their feet for years on meaningful climate action, many cities around the world have forged ahead with sustainability efforts. In July, about 60 mayors pledged to fight climate change at a two-day conference hosted by Pope Francis.

Several cities have even made impressive strides to ditch fossil fuels in favor of renewables. Two recent reports have confirmed that 100 percent renewable energy is possible. Earlier this summer, professors out of Stanford and U.C. Berkeley laid out a plan for the U.S. to convert to 100 percent renewable energy in less than 40 years, and Monday Greenpeace published its Energy Revolution 2015 report, which proposes a pathway to a 100 percent sustainable energy supply by 2050.

A report issued last week by CDP, a a U.K.-based nonprofit, and AECOM shows that "96 cities—one third of cities participating in CDP—are already taking action to decarbonize their electricity supply. And 86 percent of these cities say taking action on climate change presents an economic opportunity."

This year, 308 cities reported to CDP. Nearly half a billion people call these cities home—equivalent to the combined population of the U.S., UK and France. The report found that "currently over a third of cities get more than three quarters of their electricity from non-fossil fuel sources, showing that cities are actively using cleaner energy sources."

There's huge potential here: "Power generation is the single largest carbon emitter in the energy market globally, producing 12.6 gigatons of CO2 in 2015," says CDP. "With cities consuming 78 percent of energy globally, establishing renewable power sources for them can have a major impact on global emissions."

"One of the biggest challenges for cities is often their lack of direct control over their electricity or energy generation," said Conor Riffle, director of cities and data innovation at CDP. "Despite this, cities have been finding ways to shake up their energy mix and inspire a move away from fossil fuels.  As greenhouse gas emissions continue to mount, it is more important than ever that we seize the opportunities of a low-carbon future.  Cities are well placed to lead this transition."

U.S. Cities

The city of Aspen, Colorado announced earlier this month that it will be running on 100 percent renewable energy by the end of the year, making it the third city in America to do so. Burlington, Vermont and Greensburg, Kansas, which decided to make the move after it was devastated by a powerful tornado in 2007, have also gone 100 percent renewable. Other U.S. cities, including Santa Monica and San Francisco, have set targets to transition to 100 percent renewable energy.

Read page 1

Austin and Los Angeles set targets of 55 percent by 2025 and 33 percent by 2020, respectively. It looks like Austin will hit its goal four years ahead of schedule thanks to the plummeting cost of solar and wind. Los Angeles's goal is part of California's renewables portfolio standard, which requires all utilities in the state to source 33 percent of their electricity sales from renewable sources by 2020. Another noteworthy state is Hawaii, which has enacted the nation's first 100 precent renewable energy standard—mandating that all of the state’s electricity comes from renewable sources no later than 2045.

Worldwide

Worldwide, 109 cities have set renewable energy or electricity targets. Latin American cities are the least reliant on fossil fuels to power their electricity, though many rely on high amounts of hydro. The cities average 76 percent of their electricity from renewables. Brazil alone has at least 15 fully fossil fuel-free cities, and several others that are close to 100 percent renewable.

European cities are next. Participating cities there averaged 59 percent. Asia Pacific cities are the most dependent on fossil fuels, while North America and Africa fall somewhere in between Europe and Asia Pacific. Participating Asia Pacific cities receive, on average, 15 percent of their electricity from non-fossil fuel sources.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Reykjavik, Iceland; and Curitiba, Brazil are some of the cities worldwide that have already met the 100 percent renewable energy goal. Stockholm, Sweden has pledged to be free of fossil fuels by 2040.

"I have set the ambitious goal for Stockholm to be—not just climate neutral—but fossil fuel free by 2040," said Karin Wanngård, the mayor of Stockholm. "I am fully aware that the city must excel in all aspects to reach this goal. Stockholm is already an acknowledged global climate leader, where energy consumption decreases, as do emissions and waste. Measuring and reporting our progress are extremely important tools in helping us succeed and to ensure that the city of Stockholm continues to be a frontrunner when it comes to fighting climate change."

Canberra, Australia has committed that by 2020, 90 percent of its electricity supply will be from large-scale renewables—delivering a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Sydney, Australia is aiming for 30 percent renewables by 2030.

There are a number of islands taking the plunge as well. Samso in Denmark became the first island in the world to go 100 percent renewable. Tokelau in the South Pacific, El Hierro in Spain’s Canary Islands and Kodiak Island in southern Alaska have all eliminated fossil fuels from their electrical supply. Aruba, St. Lucia, Grenada, the British Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and San Andres and Providencia, and Belize all participate in the Ten Island Challenge, which was created by Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson’s climate group the Carbon War Room, now partnered with Amory Lovins’ think tank the Rocky Mountain Institute, to encourage islands in the Carribbean to tap into their abundant supply of sunshine and wind to transition to renewable energy sources.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

100% Renewable Energy Possible by 2050, Says Greenpeace Report

Governor Undermines Climate Action Plan in Colorado

Join National Day of Action Oct. 14 and Demand Leaders Tackle Climate Change

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Climate
Global warming in Iceland. Getty Images

Arctic Warming Amplifies Extreme Weather Events Globally: Wildfires, Flooding Likely to Be More Severe

Warming in the Arctic is causing the jet stream, a belt of air held "up" around the Arctic by the temperature difference between the Arctic and warmer climates, to weaken and slow.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
DWalker44 / Getty Images

Tons of Plastic Trash Enter the Great Lakes Every Year – Where Does It Go?

By Matthew J. Hoffman

Awareness is rising worldwide about the scourge of ocean plastic pollution, from Earth Day 2018 events to the cover of National Geographic magazine. But few people realize that similar concentrations of plastic pollution are accumulating in lakes and rivers. One recent study found microplastic particles—fragments measuring less then five millimeters—in globally sourced tap water and beer brewed with water from the Great Lakes.

Keep reading... Show less
Science
Gorancakmazovic / Getty Images

Blotting Out the Sun to Save the Earth? Seriously?

By Jeff Turrentine

Science fiction doesn't always stay fictional. Space exploration, robots and self-driving cars are just a few of the modern-day wonders that once existed only as plot devices or fantastical theories. Our capacity for turning science-fictional notions into the stuff of everyday life has grown with each new generation of scientists and microchips, such that more and more ideas previously deemed too far "out there" are now actually here, or at least technologically plausible.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Flames of the Simi Valley fire ravage a Southern California mountain side on Oct. 29, 2012. U.S. Air Force / Senior Master Sgt. Dennis W. Goff

'Hothouse Earth' Co-Author Says 'People Will Look Back on 2018 as the Year When Climate Reality Hit'

By Jessica Corbett

Amid a flurry of "breathless headlines" about warnings in a new study that outlines a possible "Hothouse Earth" scenario, one co-author optimistically expressed his belief that "people will look back on 2018 as the year when climate reality hit."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Kodachrome25 / Getty Images

Roof-to-Garden: How to Irrigate with Rainwater

By Brian Barth

The average American household uses about 320 gallons of water per day, a third for irrigation and other outdoor uses. Collecting the water flowing down your downspouts in rainstorms so you can use it to irrigate in dry periods is often touted as a simple way to cut back. But setting up a functional rainwater irrigation system—beyond the ubiquitous 55-gallon barrels under the downspout, which won't irrigate much more than a flower bed or two—is a fairly complicated DIY project.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
A family wears face masks as they walk through the smoke filled streets after the Thomas wildfire swept through Ventura, California on Dec. 6, 2017. MARK RALSTON / AFP / Getty Images

How to Protect Your Children From Wildfire Smoke

By Cecilia Sierra-Heredia

We're very careful about what our kids eat, but what about the air they breathe?

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Health
Hero Images / Getty Images

Study: Children Have Better Nutrition When They Live Near Forests

Spending time in nature is known to boost mental and emotional health. Now, a new global study has found that children in 27 developing nations tend to have more diverse diets and better nutrition when they live near forests.

The paper, published Wednesday in Science Advances, provides evidence that forest conservation can be an important tool in promoting better nutrition in developing countries, rather than clear-cutting forests for more farmland.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Navy torpedo bomber spraying DDT just above the trees in Goldendale, WA in 1962. USDA Forest Service

Maternal DDT Exposure Linked to Increased Autism Risk

A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry Thursday found that mothers exposed to the banned pesticide DDT were nearly one-third more likely to have children who developed autism, Environmental Health News reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!