EBRD aids energy transition with urban sustainability initiative

Sustainable energy

United KingdomThe European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is developing its own Energy Compact to help the energy transition, with an emphasis on investments through its flagship urban sustainability initiative, EBRD Green Cities.

The Compact is a reaction to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7, which aims to deliver clean and affordable energy to all. Under this plan, the EBRD commits to nearly double investments in EBRD Green Cities priority investments to roughly 1.9 billion by end-2023, up from 1,011 million in August 2021. During the same time period, the number of Green City Action Plans (the plans that each city develops after joining the program to identify priority environmental concerns to solve) is expected to increase from 19 to 50.

With cities developing yet their leaders cognizant of the need to reduce the speed of climate change, one critical issue for planners is to figure out how to give energy to burgeoning urban populations without exacerbating climate problems or worsening air quality. This is especially true for cities in the EBRD regions of central and eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the southern and eastern Mediterranean. Among the myriad issues they face are limited infrastructure investment, demographic changes, and poor air quality, all of which are tied to a historical legacy of high energy and carbon intensity.

The rationale for the EBRD Green Cities project, launched in 2016, was to assist cities in identifying, prioritizing, and addressing key urban concerns in order to build more sustainable living places. It has proven to be so successful that it has expanded to 49 cities in its first five years.

The EBRD Energy Compact is based on the flagship EBRD Green Cities project, which aims to bring bottom-up planning for green priority investments in cities through Green Cities Action Plans. These include SDG7-related planning and finance, such as enhancing energy efficiency in buildings, promoting green urban transportation, water and waste management, and digitalization of city services.

The annual impact of Green Cities investments already translates into significant energy savings, estimated to be 2.4 million Gigajoules per year.