The cities of our Western Hemisphere are growing rapidly. How these cities develop will determine the carbon footprint for the region for generations to come.

Dr Steven Chu, United States Energy Secretary, 16 June 2009 on launching the "Low Carbon Communities of the Americas" programme in Lima, Peru.

Cities, towns and urban neighbourhoods all over the world are pledging to reduce their carbon footprint by decreasing their volumes of greenhouse gas emissions in various ways. Many are actively committing to undertaking environmental initiatives "in their own front yards" as are their local businesses and industries. Overcoming the NIMBY (not-in-my-back-yard) syndrome, whereby energy project proposals are commonly objected to by those living and working nearby, is a problem for national, regional and local governments all around the world. Local governments, whose leaders and staff are closer to the issues raised by their constituents, can have an active role to play in the development of local renewable energy projects by ensuring all stakeholders have a full understanding of the benefits and disbenefits.

Local authorities have the power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through their responsibilities for regulating land and buildings; maintaining infrastructure for water supply, waste treatment and road transport; investing in public transport systems; and their ability to form partnerships with private organisations and companies. Carefully thought-through policies can enable a local authority council to achieve a reduction in greenhouse gases as well as enhanced energy security and an improved quality of life for the local community. Encouraging the deployment of renewable energy projects at the local level is one role that municipalities can play to help meet these objectives. Using the expertise of raising awareness, providing services, maintaining infrastructure, urban planning, managing assets and buildings, and informing citizens, local governments can become the drivers of the changes in thinking that will be needed if the rapid transition to a low carbon energy system is to eventuate.

There is a growing sense of urgency and enthusiasm towards the goal of achieving a decarbonised world by citizens and businesses. However, in practice, many of the leaders and officials who develop policies and manage a city on a daily basis (including mayors, councillors, executives, officials, administrators, engineers and resource planners) are often unfamiliar with methods and measures for actually implementing renewable energy projects and sustainable energy practices. Such measures may interact with national and state policies as they are developed, or at times be more advanced and ambitious. They include:

I assessing the local renewable energy resources and then encouraging deployment of related renewable energy-based projects2;

I encouraging energy efficiency and conservation actions by local residents and businesses as well as in commercial buildings, schools, hospitals and other public buildings;

I i nvesting less in roads and car parks and more in public transport systems and infrastructure and plans to encourage walking and cycling;

I identifying, monitoring and regularly evaluating a number of environmental performance indicators;

I p roducing planning regulations that allow for future adaptation requirements due to climate change impacts that now appear to be inevitable in many urban conglomerations;

2. Assessing comparative energy use between cities requires agreement on how to handle energy supplied from outside, such as power generation or natural gas, and vehicles passing through. Currently there are no standard methods of reporting, although several organisations are working towards standardising methods of data collection.

I developing whole-system thinking rather than trying to solve issues individually; and

I dutting a municipal authority's own "house" in order, thereby demonstrating good leadership and governance.

It is appreciated that there are major differences between the administration of towns and cities in OCED countries, transition economies, and other non-OECD countries. Most of the initiatives to date have been taken by municipalities in OECD countries that have the physical, social and financial means to support renewable energy deployment, more so than in many non-OECD countries. However there are some good examples of what can be achieved by motivated local authorities that show strong leadership in developing countries. Several of the case studies (Section 8) were chosen to reflect this.

External expert advice is usually sought to provide direction and confidence to city officials who liaise with residents since some of the issues can appear daunting and a potential threat. Although all the measures listed above have a key role to play in moving towards a more sustainable future, this report aims to provide a technological background and policy advice mainly relating to the first bullet point above on renewable energy. The information is partly based on actual experiences and therefore should have practical implications for the reader. Suggestions and recommendations for strategic solutions are offered to community leaders responsible for the necessary transition towards sustainability and climate change mitigation by developing renewable energy deployment initiatives. Topics covered include the use of renewable energy resources to provide energy services for:

I dhe built environment;

I d mall/medium enterprises and industries located within the city boundary; and I methods of transport to move people and goods around the city.

A further aim of the report is to build the local knowledge capacity of personnel working in urban environments in both developed and developing countries so that community leaders, municipal authority employees, members of local non-governmental organisations, and citizens can together develop achievable targets and plans.

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