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About UNEP
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United Nations Environment Programme
Division of Technology, Industry and Economics
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Information on completed IETC Project (2000-2004) for archival purposes only. For current on-going projects, please see http://www.unep.or.jp/

 

Energy for Cities

Green House Gases (GHGs) emissions and energy demand have risen high on the global environmental agenda - particularly with the Kyoto Protocol and other related global agreements. The world has seen an uncontrollable pace of urbanisation, and a consequent rise in energy demand for private and public consumption and for economic activities - leading on to greater emission of GHGs. This has led to an urgent need for the incorporation of energy efficiency issues to be included in urban planning and construction.

Some important aspects of energy efficient urban infrastructure include (a) maximising the energy efficiency of building and infrastructure operations through the use of renewable resources, decentralised co-generation and energy cascading techniques in a manner which optimises integrated energy flows and minimises potential global environmental impacts such as GHG emissions, and (b) linking producers and consumers of energy and materials throughout the community, city and surrounding regions to facilitate resource exchanges and recycling networks.

For example, mitigating and reducing the impacts contributed by many urban activities is a significant challenge for urban planners, designers, architects and the local industry, especially in the context of population and urban growth, and the associated infrastructure requirements. It is therefore important to encourage environmentally sound management of urban areas through more energy and resource efficient eco-design, infrastructure development, and construction practices. A similar scenario can be drawn for urban transportation. Increased transportation, as an offshoot of the growing/globalizing economies, has led to pollution, climate change, traffic congestion, and sprawl - people are driving more cars further distances for longer periods of time. The result is environmental decline, and poorer health for urban residents as well as a poorer environment for the city as a whole.

It is with this background that a comprehensive and holistic review is being carried out by UNEP-IETC on the issue of energy for cities, particularly relating to its link to sustainable transportation. It will look at the issue from the perspective of sustainability -- how much and at what rate is energy consumed, and its effect on long term sustainability; the quality and quantity of available alternative/renewable forms of energy; and the effect of existing energy use on the global environment as a whole; efficiency -- the technology, planning and management of energy systems that will facilitate efficient use of energy for human activity, particularly transportation; and equity -- the appropriate financial mechanism for research, development and use of finite and alternative energy forms, and their equitable distribution for all humankind.

Need:

There is a clear need to analyse and understand urban energy systems within the dimensions of -

  • sustainability -- how much and at what rate is energy consumed, and its effect on long term sustainability; the quality and quantity of available alternative/renewable forms of energy; and the effect of existing energy use on the global environment as a whole.
  • efficiency -- the technology, planning and management of energy systems that will facilitate efficient use of energy for human activity, particularly transportation.
  • equity -- the appropriate financial mechanism for research, development and use of finite and alternative energy forms, and their equitable distribution for all humankind.

Objectives:

  • To build a comprehensive inventory of energy use patterns, particularly in urban areas of developing countries
  • to explore alternative and renewable energy sources
  • to link energy with global environmental issues (including GHG emissions)
  • to co-relate environmental management efficiency with energy efficiency
  • to demonstrate energy efficiency through sustainable transportation management
  • To understand energy consumption patterns from both the supply and demand sides

Results:

A comprehensive urban energy scenario covering such issues as domestic consumption, urban transport, buildings, public lighting, heating/cooling systems, water management, finance etc.

This will be closely linked to decision-support systems for making soft and hard technology choices that will be driven by (a) governance of urban energy systems and its delivery and use, (b) a greater awareness and commitment to reduction in energy use and increased energy efficiency, and (c) thrust towards appropriate energy-efficient technologies

Outputs:

  • Comprehensive inventory of energy use patters in urban areas of developing countries
  • Analyses of the impacts (positive and negative) of transportation on energy demand
  • State-of-the-art report on alternative sources of energy and its potentials.
  • Tools to calculate the 'energy footprint' ; energy auditing methodologies etc.
  • Recommendations for energy efficiency at the building and community levels

Activities:

  • Production of monographs, case studies and status reports on a range of energy efficiency and management issues
  • Experts meetings to develop comprehensive policy recommendations (at different levels of governance) on energy efficiency
  • Exploring the potential of alternative energy sources such as solar, wind, wave/tide, biomass, geo-thermal etc. through research and development
  • Database of energy efficient technologies, and technologies that utilize/produce renewable energy
  • Document best practices and ideas in sustainable transportation practices

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