For this post, I asked my collegue at the summer school Sarah Bork to write something about her experiences of the day. Sarah is a PhD candidate from the Netherlands. Incedently, she was also my room mate for the summer school. Thanks for sharing your ideas Sarah!

“Martin Powell, Head of Urban Development at the Global Centre of Competence for Cities of Siemens gave an inspiring talk on the challenges, considering energy and climate changes, which cities all around the world face to day. The number of areas that need to be addressed by cities to prepare for the future are overwhelming. Just a summary of the numerous challenges and hurdles alone would make most people sceptical of the ambitious energy saving and renewable energy production targets set by these cities.

So maybe we should think of these targets differently… Instead of looking for projects and policies that aim at reaching climate targets we should aim for projects that inspire and engage stakeholders and the public. These projects might not directly contribute to large co2 savings or renewable energy production, but they do play an important role in changing existing systems and the perception of the possibilities for change.

By focussing on technologies that are on the verge of providing a viable business case there position on the scale can be improved (see figure 1). Showcasing profitable and less profitable technologies in a combined and innovative total solution can inspire market parties. The resulting increase in demand will improve economic performance of these technologies and stimulate the spread or up scaling of these solutions by market parties.

Taking in to consideration the local context is particular important when choosing showcase projects. Since no city is alike, successful solutions cannot simply be transported from one city to another. Taking in to consideration the specific capabilities and strengths of the players and the potentials within a city are key both for selecting projects and designing them. The perspective of focussing on the existing strengths within a city, engaging with the stakeholders that make a city unique and inspiring the larger community of citizens, companies and policy makers provide a much more positive perspective. Whether this means we will actually meet the set targets might be less important than the fact that we actually start a chain reaction of change.”

Figure 1: Data drawn from McKinsey: a low-carbon economy, v2, 2009.

sarah diagram