Public and private sectors chart a course for cities to reach a net-zero carbon future

23 Jan 2021

The impact.

Cape Town, São Paolo, Stockholm – just three of the world’s major progressive cities. Places where humans live, work and thrive together.

Citizens of these three cities are already seeing more electric vehicles on their roads, smart technology for better water treatment and recycling schemes, and more solar panels on rooftops. But business and government must do more to ensure a holistic and integrated approach in these, and other cities worldwide.

In a major step, nine cities and more than 70 organizations in 10 different sectors have come together for a multi-year initiative: Net Zero Carbon Cities. Together with the Forum, they have created a vision for the future and launched a new framework to help cities to rethink urban ecosystems, to ensure that they are greener, efficient, resilient, circular and more equitable.

In sessions at this week’s event, The Davos Agenda, representatives from government, business and civil society highlighted the approaches needed for cities to transition to a net-zero carbon future, while ensuring system resilience, job creation and improving health.

Integrated energy systems in cities (Source: Net Zero Carbon Cities: An Integrated Approach, 2021, World Economic Forum)

What’s the challenge?

The impacts of climate change will be experienced by the world’s 8 billion people, most of whom live in cities.

The cities that house more than one-half of the global population account for nearly two-thirds of the CO2 emissions that lie at the heart of the climate crisis. Rapid transformation across business models and policy is needed to achieve a net-zero carbon future.

For example, current energy infrastructure was developed decades ago for a centralized power system, not for an increasingly decentralized and digitalized system. At the same time, policy and regulation struggle to keep up with advances in smart technology and IoT.

Creating a Carbon-Neutral Future | Davos 2020 | Watch this session again

Our approach.

From policy-makers to businesses, city administrators, civil society and the financial sector, the World Economic Forum is convening a range of stakeholders with a role to play for global cities to have a chance of reaching the net-zero carbon goal by 2030.

Private sector leaders involved in Net Zero Carbon Cities include ABB, Arup, EDGE Technologies, Eletrobras, ENEL, Jacobs Engineering, JLL, Johnson Controls, Royal Dutch Shell, Schneider Electric, The Carlyle Group and Vattenfall.

The Net Zero Carbon Cities initiative is driving action on three fronts, namely the need:

– To have more energy produced from smarter, renewable sources.
– For more cars, public transport and heating to be powered by electricity.
– For everything from factories and homes to transport systems and consumer devices to become more energy efficient. A smart energy infrastructure through digitalization is key to integrating these actions an ensure a successful transition.

The coalition, co-chaired by Schneider Electric’s Chief Executive Officer Jean-Pascal Tricoire and Enel’s Chief Executive Officer Francesco Starace, is working using systemic efficiency to enable a decarbonized, highly electrified and resilient city ecosystem though ultra-efficient buildings and smart energy infrastructure.

Discover all the partners involved here.

How can you get involved?

The Net Zero Carbon Cities project is an initiative of the Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of Energy, Materials and Infrastructure, and Platform for Shaping the Future of Internet of Things and Urban Transformation.

Companies can join the integrated approach to help shape city ecosystems to become net zero carbon by joining a Forum platform.

Charting a course for the future

Learn more about the initiative

Building Net-Zero Carbon Cities

Watch our Davos Agenda session