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These Are The Cities Where They’re Replacing The Most Fossil Fuels With Renewables

Brazil alone has 15 fossil-fuel free cities.

These Are The Cities Where They’re Replacing The Most Fossil Fuels With Renewables
[Top Photo: Filipe Frazao via Shutterstock]

By the end of this year, Aspen, Colorado, will run on 100% renewable electricity. San Francisco plans to follow in 2030; Stockholm will be one of the next in 2040. And a relatively long list of other cities–from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to Reykjavik, Iceland, to Curitiba, Brazil–have already met that goal.

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In a new infographic, CDP, a U.K.-based nonprofit, maps out how much progress 162 major cities have made toward getting rid of fossil fuels. Each city that shifts makes a noticeable difference in the world’s carbon footprint because cities consume around 78% of global energy.

Click to enlargevia CDP

“City governments, many of whom wield sizable budgets and influence over regional and national governments, have a huge role to play in helping countries meet climate goals,” says Kyra Appleby, CDP’s head of cities. “Portland, for example, will contribute five times more emissions reductions to the US national renewable energy target than its population would otherwise suggest.”

Regionally, Latin America leads with the high number of renewably-powered cities. Brazil alone has at least 15 fully fossil fuel-free cities, and several others that are close to 100% renewable. Europe is next. But others in the U.S. and Australia have aggressive goals.

“Sydney is an inspiring example of a city which, although it is currently totally reliant on fossil fuels for electricity, is aiming to get 30% from renewable sources by 2030,” says Appleby.

For many cities, the dropping cost of wind and solar power is helping things happen faster. In Austin, solar power is now cheaper than coal. The city had planned to get to 55% renewable energy in a decade, but now they’re four years ahead of schedule.

It isn’t always easy. Often state and federal incentives and utility companies more directly have control over energy supplies. Cities also often lack the expertise and funding to make the shift to 100% renewables.

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Still, as cities try to take the lead on slowing climate change, they’re finding ways around those problems. “There are lessons to be learned from the innovations that other cities have put in place,” Appleby says.

Nearly 100 cities are working on decarbonization. “CDP data shows that city transition to clean power will continue,” she says. “These cities understand the business case for doing so: 86% of these cities reporting actions say they see economic opportunities from efforts to tackle climate change.”

About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.

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