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Energy Efficient Cities: Assessment Tool and Benchmarking Practices

This tool has been developed from a careful review of selected papers presented during two Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP)-sponsored sessions at the fifth World Bank Urban Research Symposium, “Cities and Climate Change: Responding to an Urgent Agenda,” which focused on tools and assessment approaches, and on good practices for energy efficient urbanization.

With cities accounting for half the world’s population today and two-thirds of global energy demand, urbanization is exacting a serious toll on the environment. As rapid urban growth continues, energy use in cities and associated levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are projected to continue unabated; current projections indicate that approximately 70 percent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, producing some 80 percent of the world’s GHG emissions. Unfortunately, most of this urban growth will take place in developing countries, where the vast majority of people remain underserved by basic infrastructure service and where city authorities are under-resourced to shift current trajectories. Further, the developing regions of Africa and Asia are where the most rapid urbanization is taking place, and they are least able to cope with the uncertainties and extremities of climate impacts.

The development and mainstreaming of energy efficient and low-carbon urban pathways that curtail climate impacts without hampering the urban development agenda thus are essential to meeting such challenges. Reducing long-term energy use through efficiency also enhances energy security by decreasing dependence on imported and fossil fuel. In addition, lower energy costs free up a city’s resources to improve or expand services while providing important local co-benefits, creating new jobs, enhancing competitiveness, improving air quality and health, and providing a better quality of life.

The scope of the papers encapsulates all three urban contexts: new cities, expanding cities, and retrofitting existing cities. The range of policy-relevant conceptual tools and practices discussed during the sessions, and subsequently built upon in this volume, helps achieve a better understanding of leverage points for energy-efficiency interventions and helps catalyze solutions that will delink high levels of carbon-intensive energy use from urban growth without compromising local development priorities.

View the tool here: Energy Efficient Cities: assessment tool and benchmarking practices