National decision-makers are in the spotlight when media report on major climate-related agreements. However, urban decision-makers play an equally important role when it comes to climate issues and the wellbeing of people. This is because more than half of the world’s population lives in cities, and urbanisation is continuing at an accelerated pace.
In many respects, urbanisation is a positive phenomenon that is creating more jobs, a livelier culture and better services. Its by-products, however, include mega-challenges such as congestion, noise, waste and emissions.
The Paris Agreement on climate change demonstrates that decision-makers all over the world have tuned in to the problems. Many citizens are also well aware of them and recognise how serious these problems are. Accordingly, an increasing number of people want to be actively involved in their energy choices so that they can impact their own consumption and even become small-scale producers of energy.
Moreover, technology has matured enough to make new smart energy solutions economically feasible. Digitalisation is one of the central drivers of change and is bringing more and more services alongside production across all sectors. In the energy sector, for example, this means that consumers can optimise their energy consumption based on their needs. Digital technology also enables smart energy networks that ensure uninterrupted distribution.
Circular economy gaining strength
Environmental problems have grown, awareness has increased, and technologies have advanced. This has enabled a new kind of thinking, driving new solutions and the demand for them. It has also given rise, among other things, to the concept of circular economy.
For example, municipal waste volumes are expected to grow by some 70 percent by 2025. On a global scale, this means another billion tons of waste. At the same time, the shortage of land is increasing. With land becoming increasingly expensive, it should be used for something better than landfills.
And most of us know by now that instead of landfilling waste, we can use it as a fuel. Converting waste into energy is a big step forward for cities wrestling with waste problems. They will be taking an even bigger step if they can improve material and energy efficiency so that as little waste as possible is generated.
A circular economy and other smart solutions that boost energy efficiency are at the core of Fortum’s strategy. Our major goal is to turn urban problems into opportunities. We want to partner with cities in driving the change towards a cleaner world.
Executive Vice President, City Solutions