HOT|COOL NO.1/2016 "COP21"


By Robert P. Thornton, President & CEO, International District Energy Association (IDEA)

through district energy and is keen to help other mayors learn from their experience. Anne Hunt of St. Paul was kind enough to offer a timely shoutout inviting the audience to IDEA2016 which St. Paul will be hosting in June 2016. Unlike the prior twenty COP sessions, many of which produced mixed if not disappointing results, this was arguably the first time that subnational entities, such as cities and the business community, had substantial voice to influence the process. 440 mayors from around the world gathered at Paris City Hall on December 4 for a “Day of Action” to demonstrate their common interest and collective voice in climate mitigation and adaptation. Former New York City Mayor Bloomberg and Paris Mayor Hidalgo were quite prominent during COP 21, making the case that mayors must be pragmatic and solutions-oriented. Much of the conference program focused on climate actions led by cities. Cities hold 53% of global population, consume 70% of the world’s energy and produce over 80% of global economic activity. It’s important to note that many of the recognized “Climate Cities” like New York City, Paris, Copenhagen, Malmo, Vancouver and Boston fully embrace district energy and their respective leaders understand and appreciate the advantages of thermal grids in their communities. District energy is very much on the radar and UNEP has been an invaluable catalyst for increasing our visibility. Moreover, mayors readily acknowledge their direct accountability and responsibility to citizens for the impacts of climate change – more frequent and severe weather events, increased flooding, economic disruption and constituent safety. In addition to adaptation, mayors are sharing technology and financing strategies in order to mobilize decisive actions to cut emissions and harden infrastructure. With the Paris Agreement now concluded, there is very strong momentum to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and shift toward lower carbon solutions. It is clear that mayors have taken up the gauntlet and will continue to catalyze change. Here in the US, even if partisan bickering in Congress distorts and delays federal action, municipalities and states will likely drive infrastructure investment. During the Summit, Mayor Bloomberg announced the aggregate impact of city commitments to the Compact of Mayors – the world’s largest coalition of cities committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and tracking progress. Climate Cities released a video outlining Bloomberg’s vision that Compact-committed cities can deliver half of the global urban potential greenhouse gas emissions reductions available by 2020. Reflecting on the historic COP21 agreement, Bloomberg reiterated his support of the success in Paris and that future success will be contingent upon city action:

The United Nation's 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) was the single largest gathering of countries in one location in recorded history. 196 different nations gathered in Paris for two weeks beginning Nov 30, 2015 culminating in a historic agreement on December 12 to limit emissions of greenhouse gases in order to avert climate change. Never before had so many heads of state come together collectively to address a single issue. Frankly, it is remarkable that a unanimous global agreement was achieved, calling for transparency, regular review periods, sharing of responsibility between developed and developing nations, and ultimately a unifying statement that will galvanize action toward cleaner energy solutions. Had one party declined approval, the whole agreement would have collapsed, much like the calamity of Copenhagen which I witnessed first-hand in 2009. Frommy view, the Paris Agreement is a very positive outcome for district energy/CHP (Combined Heat and Power), requiring that we re-double our efforts as an industry to leverage favorable policies to accelerate deployment and growth of district energy systems. IDEA was invited to participate in COP21 by the United Nations Environmental Program and ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability with whom we have partnered on the District Energy in Cities Initiative. IDEA released a special video for COP21: District Energy for Low Carbon Cities in conjunction with a panel discussion involving Maryke van Staden of ICLEI; the Honorable Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh, Mayor of Mälmo, Sweden; Peter Krahl Rydberg, Environmental Strategist of the City of Gothenburg, Sweden; Anne Hunt, Environmental Policy Director, City of St. Paul, MN; and industry leaders Ahmad Bin Shafar, CEO of Empower Energy Solutions, Dubai, UAE and Paul Voss, Managing Director of Euroheat & Power, Brussels. The panel session highlighted the variety of solutions and innovation within our industry and around the globe. In Malmo, 90% of the residences use district energy and 60% is from recovered waste heat. In Gothenburg, an industrial port city, district heating service supplants idling ship boilers when docked at port and surplus heat from local industry provides baseload community energy, strengthening the circular economy. In St. Paul, regional wood waste has displaced over 240,000 tons per year coal use, dramatically cutting emissions and nearly doubling efficiency through district energy/CHP. Both Malmo and St Paul are involved in significant industrial re-development projects that will be underpinned by clean district energy infrastructure. In just ten years, Dubai has deployed over one million tons of district cooling capacity to literally halve peak electric demand and displace substantial downstream emissions. Mayor Jammeh of Malmo is rightly proud of her city’s leadership in sustainability


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