More than 40 cities worldwide are listed in an environmental report as running entirely on renewable electricity, and 102 are recorded as drawing at least 70 per cent from renewable sources.
Burlington, Vermont, is one of the cities depending exclusively on renewables, and four of the 102 named as relying on renewables for 70 per cent of their supply are in the US.
In addition, 58 US towns and cities have committed themselves to eventually sourcing all their electricity from renewables. They include big centers such as Atlanta and San Diego.
A swing to non-fossil sources in the US contrasts vividly with President Donald Trump’s widely publicized decision to withdraw his country from the Paris climate accord to keep this century’s global temperature rise within two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Burlington’s proud boast is that its renewable electricity is affordable as well as clean. Energy prices in Burlington have not been raised in eight years. The city’s electricity comes from wind, solar, hydro and biomass sources.
Mayor Miro Weinberger said: “Burlington is proud to have been the first city in the United States to source 100 per cent of our power from renewable generation. We have seen first-hand that renewable energy boosts our local economy and creates a healthier place to work, live and raise a family. We encourage other cities around the globe to follow our innovative path as we all work toward a more sustainable energy future.”
Basel in Switzerland and the Icelandic capital Reykjavik are two other renewables-only cities.
Electricity in Basel is supplied by hydro and wind power through the city’s own energy company. Reykjavik receives its electricity from hydro and geothermal sources and aims to make all cars and public transport vehicles fossil-free by 2040.
The report, from the non-profit CDP, the former Carbon Disclosure Project, which drives businesses and governments to improve their environmental performance, compiled the facts and figures.
CDP, which was formed in London but has an international role, reported that the number of cities obtaining 70 per cent of their electricity from renewables had more than doubled from 42 in 2015. This category included Auckland, Nairobi, Oslo and Vancouver.
At the same time the UK100 network of local government leaders reported that more than 80 British towns and cities had set a totally clean energy target by 2050. This group included Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne and 16 London boroughs.
The study reflects a worldwide intensification of climate change action and a sharp rise in environmental reporting and emissions reduction goals since the Paris agreement.
Kyra Appleby, CPD’s director of cities, said: “Cities are responsible for 70 per cent of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, and there is immense potential for them to lead on building a sustainable economy. Reassuringly, our data shows much commitment and ambition.
“Cities not only want to shift to renewable energy, but – most importantly – they can. We urge all cities to disclose to us, work together to meet the goals of the Paris agreement, and prioritize the development of ambitious renewable energy procurement strategies. The time to act is now.”
On the corporate front, the CDP report highlights Apple, Google and Starbucks among more than 120 companies that are committed to securing all their electricity from renewables.
The report says: “CDP’s recent climate analysis found that since 2016 there has been a 36 per cent surge in companies with targets to generate their own renewable power.”