Cities account for over 70 percent of global energy use and, 40 to 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. In several cities, heating and cooling can account for up to half of local energy consumption. One of the least-cost and most efficient solutions in reducing emissions and primary energy demand is the development of modern (climate-resilient and low-carbon) district energy in cities. Modern District Energy Systems (DES) will enable Frankfurt to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050. Through DES, the city will improve energy efficiency, be able to switch from fossil fuels, use waste heat and provide balancing for variable renewable energy sources.
To facilitate this energy transition, UN Environment launched the Global District Energy in Cities Initiative at the New York Climate Summit in September 2014, as the implementing mechanism for the Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) District Energy Accelerator. The Global District Energy in Cities Initiative is supporting national and municipal governments in their efforts to develop, retrofit or scale up district energy systems, with backing from international and financial partners and the private sector. The Initiative is bringing together cities, academia, technology providers and financial institutions in a joint ambition to build the necessary capacity and transfer of know-how while engaging all stakeholders and reducing emissions. Twinning between cities – matching champion ones with learned ones is a key component of the Global District Energy in Cities Initiative to scale up lessons learned and best practices.