How Green is Your City? New Global Analysis Reveals Extent of Trend to Cleaner Energy

Sep 17, 2015 10:05 AM ET

September 17, 2015 /3BL Media/ - Latin American and European cities are the least reliant on fossil fuels to power their electricity, finds new analysis of major cities around the world, released today by CDP and AECOM.  Asia Pacific cities continue to exhibit a high dependency on fossil fuels, while North American and African cities sit somewhere in the middle. 

This year 308 cities are participating in CDP to better manage their climate change strategies.  As part of the process, they have been asked to disclose the fuel mix for the electricity that powers their city.  In 2015, 162 cities have responded and reveal their use of fossil fuel versus clean power sources, reporting coal, gas, oil, nuclear, biomass, geothermal, hydro, solar and wind [click here to see  energy mix for cities in your region].

The results show that of participating cities, Latin American cities average 76% of their electricity from clean sources.  European cities in the study average 59% from clean power.  Participating cities in the Asia Pacific region collectively receive 15% of their electricity from non-fossil fuel sources. 

Overall, cities are making significant strides in shifting towards the adoption of low-carbon energy: 35% of cities reporting their energy mix get three quarters of their electricity from non-fossil fuel sources. Furthermore, over a third of the cities disclosing to CDP this year report having some kind of renewable energy target in place.    

The power generation sector is the single largest carbon emitter in the energy market and currently emits 12.6 gigatons CO2e (2015)[1] — equivalent to two years of greenhouse gas emissions from all the world’s cars.  Moving to cleaner energy sources presents cities with a major opportunity to combat climate change.

Enterprising cities are leading the transition to low-carbon growth by adopting renewable energy, with Santa Monica, San Francisco and Stockholm all setting 100% renewable electricity targets.

Karin Wanngård, mayor of Stockholm, says: I have set the ambitious goal for Stockholm to be - not just climate neutral - but fossil fuel free by 2040. I am fully aware that the city must excel in all aspects to reach this goal. Stockholm is already an acknowledged global climate leader, where energy consumption decreases, as do emissions and waste. Measuring and reporting our progress are extremely important tools in helping us succeed and to ensure that the City of Stockholm continues to be a frontrunner when it comes to fighting climate change.”

Other major cities are switching to non-fossil fuel electricity.  Canberra has committed that by 2020 90% of its electricity supply will be from large-scale renewables, delivering a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.  The City of Austin has committed to sourcing 55% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025, a goal that the city reports it is on track to meet four years ahead of schedule through energy efficiency programs and renewables purchase power agreements. And Hong Kong reports using financial incentives to encourage power companies to invest in renewable energy.

The data suggests that city transitions to clean power will continue, with 96 cities taking actions to decarbonize their energy supply.  And these cities understand the business case for doing so: 86% of these cities reporting actions say they see economic opportunities from efforts to tackle climate change. 

City action on fossil fuel dependency could be accelerated with private-sector support: many cities cite a need for additional financing to help realize their ambitions for low carbon growth.

Claire Bonham-Carter, director of sustainable development at AECOM, says: “Transforming the grid is going to be essential to helping cities, and ultimately nations, achieve the carbon reduction goals being called for in Paris in December. City actions such as community choice aggregation, large scale community solar projects and setting targets are moving utilities forward.”

Conor Riffle, director of cities and data innovation at CDP, says: “One of the biggest challenges for cities is often their lack of direct control over their electricity or energy generation.  Despite this, cities have been finding ways to shake up their energy mix and inspire a move away from fossil fuels.  As greenhouse gas emissions continue to mount, it is more important than ever that we seize the opportunities of a low-carbon future.  Cities are well placed to lead this transition.” 

Antha N. Williams, environment program lead at Bloomberg Philanthropies, says: "Through CDP we can see the bold action that cities are taking to become centers of clean, economical sources of energy and reduce pollution. This type of aggressive, immediate action is essential to fighting climate change. CDP is helping cities do even more by providing transparent reporting on carbon pollution and city actions, and through its partnership with the Compact of Mayors, an initiative led by the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, Michael R. Bloomberg. The significant aggregate actions of global cities as demonstrated by CDP and the Compact of Mayors should inspire world leaders to take equally ambitious steps before the climate negotiations in Paris at the end of this year."

The 2015 results from CDP’s cities program are released in an infographic hosted on, and city electricity generation mixes can be found here.  The disclosures from all cities participating publicly in CDP’s cities program can be found here.


About CDP

CDP, formerly Carbon Disclosure Project, is an international, not-for-profit organization providing the only global system for companies and cities to measure, disclose, manage and share vital environmental information.  CDP works with market forces, including 822 institutional investors with assets of US$95 trillion, to motivate companies to disclose their impacts on the environment and natural resources and take action to reduce them.  CDP now holds the largest collection globally of primary climate change, water and forest risk commodities information and puts these insights at the heart of strategic business, investment and policy decisions.  Please visit or follow us @CDP to find out more.


AECOM is a premier, fully integrated professional and technical services firm positioned to design, build, finance and operate infrastructure assets around the world for public- and private-sector clients. The firm’s global staff — including architects, engineers, designers, planners, scientists and management and construction services professionals — serves clients in over 150 countries around the world. AECOM is ranked as the #1 engineering design firm by revenue in Engineering News-Record magazine’s annual industry rankings, and has been recognized by Fortune magazine as a World’s Most Admired Company. The firm is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves, including transportation, facilities, environmental, energy, oil and gas, water, high-rise buildings and government. AECOM provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering customized and creative solutions that meet the needs of clients’ projects. A Fortune 500 firm, AECOM companies, including URS Corporation and Hunt Construction Group, had revenue of approximately $19 billion during the 12 months ended June 30, 2015. More information on AECOM and its services can be found at 


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Source: AECOM

For press information:

Kharunya Paramaguru,

Communications executive

+ 44 (0) 20 3818 3916


Erik Miller,
Director, corporate communications

[1] Citi GPS: Global Perspectives and Solutions, ‘Energy Darwinism’, Citi, August 2015, p55 []