Ahead of Paris climate talks, European cities embrace UNEP’s district energy initiative

Date: 4 May 2015

Another important step towards the modernization of district energy systems in Europe and Central Asia

Eight months after governments and civil society united to catalyse global climate action at the Climate Summit 2014 in New York, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announces the regional launch of the Global District Energy in Cities Initiative to a positive reception by local and national governments, and the private sector.

The capital cities of Serbia and Poland: Belgrade and Warsaw, as well as the city of Banja Luka in Bosnia and Herzegovina, signed up to the Initiative. These cities were joined by countries including Croatia.

The launch of the Initiative saw the kick-off of collaboration between the International Finance Corporation (IFC), part of the World Bank Group, and UNEP in the area of district energy.

After years at the bottom of the agenda, district energy systems are now emerging as a key element of climate change response. A transition to modern district energy could enable cities and countries to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy or carbon neutral targets, according to the “District Energy in Cities: Unlocking the Potential of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy” report recently launched by UNEP in collaboration with the Copenhagen Centre on Energy Efficiency (C2E2), Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI), and UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).

The report highlights how local governments are uniquely positioned to accelerate the transition to sustainable energy as managers of energy infrastructure, providers of services, and as important actors in catalyzing local investment for district energy systems, playing a central role in addressing the associated risks and costs. Several cities such as Dubai, Munich, Tokyo, Paris and Warsaw have attracted more than US$150 million of investment in their respective district energy systems between 2009 and 2014.

Champion cities of the Initiative, such as London, showed leadership by committing themselves to work with other cities to support the uptake of modern district energy.

On the sidelines of the regional launch, IFC presented the findings of the regional study “Private Sector Participation in District Heating”, covering several countries including Mongolia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, focusing on improving the enabling framework for private sector investment in these countries. Also during the launch, Helsinki, one of UNEP’s champion cities, received the 4th Global District Energy Climate Award.

Source: Unep.org