Sustainable urban energy is the future.

Author:Phillips, Laura
 
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Over the last 20 years, urban areas have experienced dramatic growth. Currently, over 3.5 billion people inhabit urban areas (approximately half of the global population). Developing countries in particular are undergoing rapid change from rural to urban-based economies as they are transformed by their urbanizing populations (UN-HABITAT, ICLEI, and UNEP, 2009, p. 7). Although the extent of urbanization in developing countries differs in magnitude and pace, their challenge is to stabilize a growing hunger for secure energy supplies, construct bridges of access, equity and empowerment, minimize environmental degradation, enhance human health and livelihoods, and craft new development directions (Droege, 2008, p. 1).

Global population has doubled since 1960 and is expected to surpass 9 billion by 2050. 99 per cent of this population growth, as well as 50 per cent of urban growth, is expected to occur in developing countries (Chu and Majumdar, 2012; Curry and Pillay, 2012). According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Latin America and the Caribbean are highly urbanized, with 78 per cent of the population living in cities in 2007. By 2050, that number is expected to increase to 89 per cent. While Africa and Asia are less urbanized, with approximately 40 per cent of the current population living in cities, they have also experienced high rates of growth, and their urban population is projected to increase to 62 per cent by the year 2050 (as cited in UN-HABITAT, ICLEI, and UNEP, 2009, p. 7). The United Nations projects that by 2050,6 billion people will live in cities.

The global energy crisis, coupled with the threat of climate change, demands innovation in the energy sectors, and responsible consumption for both developed and developing countries. In Urban Energy Transition: From Fossil Fuels to Renewable Power, it was stated that by 2030, global energy demands are expected to increase by 60 to 85 per cent (Droege, 2008, p. 10). According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommendations, if we are to limit global warming to no more than 2[degrees]C above pre-industrial levels, we cannot exceed an atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration level of 450 parts per million (ppm). In March 2015, however, NASA revealed that the 400 ppm level had been surpassed.

To ensure a viable, healthy and environmentally sound future, the world needs another industrial revolution, where development is fuelled by affordable...

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