Adam Parsons, programme manager in the City Energy Transformation team at GreenSCIES partner E.ON, was invited to speak at a recent meeting of the Sustainable Innovation in Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heat Pumps (SIRACH) Network on the role of innovation in delivering a low carbon future for cities.
Adam revealed that more than 70% of councils across the UK have declared a climate emergency – with many setting stretching targets to achieve net zero carbon by 2030. But even in the most progressive cities, where leaders have personally committed to the climate emergency agenda, the journey to net zero is incredibly challenging, requiring significant expertise and investment.
Simultaneously, cities face a multitude of complex and inter–related challenges spanning the provision of housing, transport, energy, smart technology and health services. ‘Decarbonisation is underpinned by the interplay between technology, policy and behavioural change, which all need to be harnessed effectively to create a market for city energy transformation and to make net zero carbon happen’ he said.
Adam went on to explain how innovation and integration of low carbon energy solutions and infrastructure will enable cities to address many of these challenges head on, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality and tackling fuel poverty, which will also drive a green economic recovery from the COVID crisis. An integrated approach to delivering low carbon heat, power and transport, whilst reducing overall energy demand through energy efficiency measures and recycling and reuse of waste energy in cities is needed.
E.ON’s experience of working in partnership with local authorities in the UK and Europe such as Islington and Malmö respectively, both testbeds for innovation and flagship models for sustainable city development, highlights a pathway towards creation of net zero carbon cities.
By developing new and innovative, long-term public, private and community partnership models, cities can equip themselves to respond to their climate emergency declarations, achieve ambitious net zero targets and realise a low carbon future. But there is no time for delay as Adam called for urgency, ‘UK cities don’t have the luxury of time – cities need to make net zero happen now at pace and scale and E.ON believes this is best achieved in partnership’.