Launch of Report: "District Energy in Cities: Unlocking the Potential of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy"

A new report by UNEP, in partnership with ICLEI, has surveyed low-carbon cities worldwide to identify the key factors underlying their success in scaling up energy efficiency and renewable energy in district energy, as well as in meeting targets for zero or low greenhouse gas emissions. Modern district energy systems emerged as a good practice approach for providing a local, affordable and low-carbon energy supply, and represented a significant opportunity for cities around the world to move towards climate-resilient, resource-efficient and low-carbon pathways. The report was launched on 25th February in Paris, France.

Among the core components of the transition to a sustainable energy future are the integration of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, and the need to use “systems thinking” when addressing challenges in the energy, transport, buildings, and industry sectors. Tackling the energy transition will require the active role of cities, since ‘cities account for over 70% of global energy consumption’, as Gino Van Begin, Secretary General of ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, notes. He continues by stating: ‘This asks for a swift and sustainable transition in urban heating, cooling and electricity. With the publication of District Energy in Cities: Unlocking the Potential of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, cities get practical guidance on how to achieve this transition while increasing reliability of energy supply, saving money, creating jobs and decreasing emissions.’ As managers of energy infrastructure and services, local governments are uniquely positioned to accelerate the transition to sustainable energy. Van Begin puts forward that by ‘Being a lead partner of the initiative, ICLEI offers support to cities interested in successfully managing their versatile and crucial role for delivery on the ground – from integrated urban and energy planning to bringing stakeholders together- to harness the multiple benefits of district energy in cities.’

More information on the District Energy in Cities Initiative:

To facilitate this energy transition, UNEP has initiated a new initiative on District Energy in Cities, as the implementing mechanism for the SE4ALL District Energy Accelerator. The initiative is coordinated by UNEP and Danfoss. ICLEI –Local Governments for Sustainability and UN-Habitat are lead partners.

Through a multi-stakeholder partnership model in two phases the project will support:

Provide technical assistance and capacity building to 1-2 cities to concretely demonstrate how to develop and implement a replicable district energy approach.

Scale up:
Provide tailored assistance to other targeted cities using the district energy modules from the UNEP publication District Energy in Cities: Unlocking the Full Potential of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

  • stimulate the uptake of district energy in cities around the world to contribute to climate change mitigation efforts
  • empower climate and energy action planning and the green economy for resilient urban futures
  • develop integrated district energy policy and investment roadmaps with interested local governments
  • address investment barriers through a policy-finance continuum bridging approach involving private sector partners and financing institutions

More information on the initiative: 


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