Cities and regions have a vital role to play in leading the low carbon transition. They consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy and are responsible for as much as 70% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. This will be compounded by an expected rise in global urban population of 1.63% per year between 2020 and 2025, increasing the proportion of energy used in urban areas.
-Richard Rugg, Managing Director of Programmes and Cities, the Carbon Trust
Head of Smart City at Oslo Business Region, Silje Bareksten, gave a special address on how Oslo is tackling its ambitious climate reduction goals, how Oslo Business Region work with the Oslo ecosystem of smart city startups, and what role the climate strategy of Oslo and the climate obligations the Norwegian government has taken on, play in developing a truly smart city that works with the climate and not against.
Among prominent speakers at the event was Claire Perry MP, UK Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth. She strongly communicated the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship as means to solve the climate challenge in cities; exemplifying this through her own departments targeted innovation support for new industry such as battery technology and hydrogen, through the government owned innovation agency Innovate UK – operating much like Oslo Business Region does for the City of Oslo.
Mark Watts, Executive Director of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group opened his talk stating «we are currently losing the carbon battle – with a few exemplary Scandinavian exceptions». At the same rate as public transport is going electric many places, he pointed out that transport of goods remains the most pressing issue to solve to manage climate initiatives that really work. This is an important recognition of the priorities that have been made in Oslo, where the Climate Agency has also pointed out freight of goods as a key issue to solve next to move towards emission goals.
Chief Executive for the UK Environment Agency, Sir James Bevan, put focus on the rising sea levels across the globe, pointing at this consequence of climate change as a number one global threat – particularly so for UK. “83 % of UK’s population now live in cities, and our cities are located near the coast or rivers”. Major flooding could result in economic depressions that send the UK into financial crisis; making it absolutely crucial to work at both ends – battling hard the causes of climate change and preparing to handle the consequences that have already been done.
According to a survey conducted by the Carbon Trust team, professionals attending the conference feel that a climate leadership gap has emerged within the public sector. Whilst 90% of respondents believe that public sector leadership is very important in meeting international ambitions on climate change, just a quarter of those organisations have actually committed to align themselves to the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.
This issue is known for the public sector here in Oslo and is much debated – cross-sectorial work and breaking down silos have never been more important. During the event, Oslo Business Region shared about how we assist the City of Oslo in doing just that, among other things through our accelerator program.
You can read more about the Low Carbon Trust here.