East Asian cities envision a low-carbon, low-risk and resilient energy future by 2030

29 October, Seoul and Beijing – Eleven cities from four East Asian countries met with internationally renowned experts in Beijing to explore how they can transform their urban energy systems to turn low-carbon, low-risk and resilient by the year 2030. The Energy-safe Cities expert symposium on 28-29 October 2014 saw the participation of Baoding, Yixing, and Zhenjiang from China; Kyoto, Tokyo, and Yokohama from Japan; Mongolia’s capital city Ulaanbaatar; and Cheongju, Inje, Jeonju, and Samcheok from South Korea.

Drawing more than 70 participants, including East Asian local government representatives and internationally leading experts, the symposium facilitated a robust dialogue and knowledge exchange, and provided a platform for building partnerships for a rapid urban energy transformation to resilient and renewable energy-safe cities in East Asia. The symposium was organized by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) and the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, and Energy.

The symposium in Beijing saw the launch of Energy-safe Cities – East Asia program designed by ICLEI and Wuppertal Institute to help East Asian cities explore and take concerted actions toward the goal of low-risk, resilient, and hundred percent renewable-energy-based cities by 2030.

Envisioning a hundred percent renewable and energy-safe future by 2030, the Energy-safe Cities East Asia program inspires a paradigm shift in the way cities conceptualize and take concerted actions for urban sustainability. The goal appears ambitious, yet, experience from cities and regions across the world shows that technologies, strategies and tools exist and are indeed being applied successfully towards attaining this goal.

"Taking low-carbon development seriously, we must take bold steps to transform urban energy systems. We must fully exploit what today's technologies are offering and envisage radical solutions. These will make cities more resilient, energy supply more sustainable, and the economy greener,” says Konrad Otto-Zimmermann, Founding Director of ICLEI’s East Asia Secretariat and Chairman, ICLEI Urban Agendas.

Experiences from across the world – Sydney, Copenhagen, Reykjavik, Freiburg, Malmö and other cities and regions – show that there is a wide range of technologies, policy strategies, and well as financial and social tools that are being effectively applied toward the goal of low-risk, resilient, and hundred percent renewable energy based cities.

Dr. Manfred Fischedick, Executive Director of the Wuppertal Institute, says “Cities are strongly affected by climate change and suffer from volatile energy prices, and in some areas from unstable energy supply structures reducing the attractiveness for high sensitive industry. On the other hand, cities are the brains of our economies and centers of creativity and power; they have the power to trigger ambitious transformation pathways.”

Representing the renewable energy sector, Huang Ming, Founder, Chairman and CEO of China Himin Solar Energy Group, and Vice President of the International Solar Energy Society, says “The responsibilities of the renewable energy sector are to work out a series of products like common daily goods and business models like the IT industry. If all of the people in the world love renewables like they love their smart phones, and all the governments treat renewables like they treat their election campaigns, what a brilliant future it will be!”

East Asian cities today face common urban challenges and risks: rapid urbanization and in-migration of people, resource shortages and socio-economic inequalities, as well as increasing waste, pollution, and impacts of climate change. The nuclear disaster of Fukushima, Japan in 2011 showed the world that even advanced infrastructure in modern urbanized environments can fail, and impacts can quickly extend from the local to the regional and global scales.

The Expert Symposium was co-hosted by Green Technology Center – Korea and endorsed by the International Geothermal Association, International Solar Energy Society, World Bioenergy Association, World Green Building Council, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and China Business Council for Sustainable Development. The symposium will lead to the second stage of the program spanning eight to twelve months, where local scenario workshops will be held in cities who commit to undertake Goal 2030 for 100% renewable and energy-safe cities.

For more information, visit Energy-safe Cities – East Asia Program.

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