Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently touted coal as the future of Australia’s energy portfolio despite the renewable technology industry overtaking the country’s struggling coal mining sector. Meanwhile, India is planning to open one of the largest open-air coal mine in the world, whilst its’ solar capacity tripled in the past three years to an impressive 10,000 MW. At the same time, the United States are gutting their own federal environmental agency and planning to reopen its’ coal mines even though last year saw the renewable energy sector employ more people than the gas, petrol, and coal industries combined. The reason behind the conflicting news? Cities.
With governments slow to enact environmental legislation or outright ignoring it, cities worldwide have banded together to set ambitious goals to help curb climate change. Some cities such as Oslo in Norway, have pledged to cut their carbon emissions at a rate much larger than the country’s total goal agreed upon at COP21. Other major European cities including some in France and Spain have plans to aggressively phase out diesel-powered trucks in a bid to reduce pollution, and have already begun having car-free days in their cities and promoting free public transport.
Globally, these cities are taking a stand against their governments’ environmental short-sightedness, which can sometimes cause friction between local and national politics. In Australia, Sydney is arguing with the capital, Canberra, over their ability to produce their own power, which would not only reduce carbon emission but also the city’s soaring energy prices. In America, twelve major cities including Austin, Los Angeles and Boston all reaffirmed their commitment to making their cities more environmentally friendly despite the federal government removing several important environmental protection legislations and threatening to pull out of their COP21 commitments.
Although some cities have had to pick up the slack from their national governments’ slow footedness, other countries are fully invested in the environmental movement. These countries include but by no means are limited to: Sweden, who have pledged to be carbon neutral by 2045; Denmark, who plan to ditch coal energy by 2023; Portugal, who have opened the largest wind farm project in the world; whilst China and Saudi Arabia have invested $364 Billion and $50 Billion respectively into renewable energy.