21 June 2021 | Reading 13 mins.

Cities: game changers in the fight against global emissions and air pollution

Solar panels on the Werkspoorfabriek in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Photo: Jeroen van de Water


Lea Ranalder
Project Manager & Analyst, REN21

Lea Ranalder, Project Manager & Analyst, REN21

Cities from around the world are answering the call for climate action. REN21 brings you snapshots into Adelaide, Seoul, Kampala, Recife, Cape Town, Santiago and more!

The pandemic has thrown into stark relief the global battle of cities for cleaner air, healthier living environments and a better future. The REN21 Renewables in Cities 2021 Global Status Report is the annual stock-take of the global transition to renewable energy at the city-level. It shows that more than 1 billion people – about 25% of the urban population – live in a city with a renewable energy target and/or policy. Over 1,300 cities have demonstrated leadership in advancing renewables beyond the power sector.

More than half of the global population live in cities, which account for three-quarters of global final energy consumption. With their impact at scale, urban areas will play an important role in accelerating the global uptake of renewables. Rapidly replacing fossil fuels with renewables across high-polluting sectors is also an urban opportunity to create sustainable, equitable and thriving cities, which are also more resilient, with more local jobs and cleaner air. To achieve this, there is an urgent need for cities to step up their game and take bolder actions on renewables, but national governments also must put money, capacity and above all legislative powers into the hands of local authorities.

Over 1,300 cities have demonstrated leadership in advancing renewables beyond the power sector.

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