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Citizen today, April 2011 - Green and clean: the future of cities - EY - Global

Citizen Today, April 2011

Green and clean: the future of cities

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Percentage of survey respondents investing in sustainability projects

"City leaders should direct policy and financial support at a few specific technologies, rather than being diffused across a wide range of areas.

Summary: How cities can harness the potential of clean technology is one of the many challenges uniting civic leaders around the world.

The right idea at the right time

Clean technology can support growth and generate jobs, making it a great idea for cities recovering from the global financial crisis.

Its widespread popularity is evident. 86% of our survey respondents said they have a specific sustainable development policy.

Clean tech can also help give a competitive edge to cities in an increasingly globalized world. It can also deliver:

  • Long-term economic growth
  • Sustainable job creation
  • Energy security

Survey respondents said they are investing in the following sustainability projects.

Percentage of survey respondents
investing in sustainability projects

Three cities, three plans

Let’s take a look at three examples of how cities are addressing environmental concerns.

  1. Cape Town, South Africa. Deputy Mayor Alderman Nielson said the top three issues his city faces are sustainability given population growth; energy (fuel and electricity prices); and the availability of water relating to energy costs.
  2. Copenhagen, Denmark. Mayor Frank Jensen said his vision for the city highlighted “green growth,” including plans to become CO2 neutral by 2025, as well as proposals to safeguard a transport system where traffic is made up of one-third cars, one-third cycling and one-third public transport.
  3. Vancouver, Canada. Mayor Gregor Robertson is working to establish his city as a green capital — proving that going green is good for business. Specific programs include doubling the city’s bicycle infrastructure budget, setting the highest electric vehicle charging standards for new buildings in North America and approving laneway housing. Vancouver now has the greenest building standards in North America.

These three examples show how cities are going green. Having the following building blocks can help a city reach a green future:

  • Strong engineering, science, technology, research and development heritage
  • Financial services sector
  • Substantial investor base
  • Access to natural resources

South Korea and China set the pace for green growth

South Korea and China have prioritized cleantech as an industry of national strategic importance. Their investments reflect this.

The South Korean Government has announced plans to double its investment in cleantech research and development in the next few years — to US$2.93b by 2013. China, meanwhile, is now the clear global renewable energy leader and is still experiencing growth in its wind and solar markets.

But for cities and countries that are more financially constrained, there are three interdependent barriers:

  • Policy
  • Capital
  • Infrastructure

Without a stable, long-term policy framework infrastructure will not be built at the rate required to enable green growth.

Cities can break this cycle by:

  • Producing policies centered objectives for growth, jobs, energy security and carbon reduction
  • Having city leaders focus on a few specific technologies, rather than many
  • Educating city residents about the potential for new jobs and investment that cleantech represents

However, the journey toward a low-carbon, more resource-efficient world has already begun. Cities are proving to be pivotal participants in this global transition.

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