Discussion on climate neutral cities hosted in Pittsburgh

The first Global Clean Energy Action Forum (GCEAF) was held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on September 21-23. The conference was organized by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in conjunction with the 13th Clean Energy Ministerial and 7th Mission Innovation meetings. The purpose of the conference was to showcase activities that are taking place around the world to slow down climate change, with a focus on the energy sector. The message was that the time for setting climate targets has passed - now it's time for action!

GTI organized a side event at GCEAF on the theme The Climate Neutral City - How Cities Can Accelerate Change. A panel consisting of Rebecca Isacowitz from the DOE's Office for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Staffan Ingvarsson from Stockholm Business Region, Aftyn Giles from the City of Pittsburgh, Olle Dierks from the strategic innovation program Viable Cities and Chris Cieslak from the organization Green Building Alliance, discussed how city initiatives can drive change. Innovation and Research Counselor at the Swedish Embassy in USA, Maria Brogren, moderated the panel discussion.

One message was that pilot projects are important, for example testing electric vehicle charging systems in a district, which can later be scaled up to incorporate the entire city. What the cities need from the state level is to remove obstacles for such pilots, e.g. by allowing so-called regulatory sandboxes where exceptions to certain rules may be made, as well as by helping to spread lessons learned between cities. A lot has already been tried in different cities around the world and we need to increase the pace of both learning and implementation of solutions to reach the climate goals. A direct result of the panel discussion was that the representatives from Stockholm and Pittsburgh will investigate how they can collaborate on energy efficiency in buildings.