In a recent SIEW Opening Keynote Address, was an opening view by Cedrik Neike, a member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG and CEO Smart Infrastructure on “Accelerating Energy Transformation”, He asked the question to the audience: Are we doing enough?
Sadly he only had ten minutes. It would have been good to have this opening challenge expanded out so we can all recognize many of the areas that we are not doing enough in our need for the necessary energy transition.
Mr. Neike spoke of the battle we have in the energy and urbanization transformation, the need to accelerate the transition.
So his question sparked my thinking here that in my view, there are four parts to any Urban Transition.
Today 55% of the world’s population resides in urban areas; in2050, that will be staggering at 68% of the world population will be living in cities. We are heading for an urban crisis unless we recognize the four parts of the urban transition and bring them together.
The recognition that there were four parts comes from a piece I was reading a while back was to recognize that Urbanization has four urban transition aspects, outlined by the Urban Transitions Alliance
We need a significant Infrastructure transition, as much of the existing infrastructure is not fit for purpose. We need comprehensive infrastructure plans, ones built on flexible and renewable energy.
Secondly, we need a mobility transition. Our dependence on vehicles needs to change. We must accelerate the e-mobility thinking, in trains, buses, motorbikes, and cars. Many of our cities are choking on pollution from hazardous air quality and congestion. Our mobility does not necessarily need to be our own
Thirdly we need this all-important energy transition. We need new energy solutions; we need to deliver sustainable electricity, powered by green energies, not carbon-based. Cities can only become attractive places to live if we make this energy transition and that will require new physical systems that meet the needs of expanding cities
The fourth and perhaps the most important to manage, and manage well, is the social transition. We have constant tensions in cities, and it is through social engagement, building a shared identity can we successfully manage any change. We need to be fully inclusive, so all living in a city or its urban area can share in any economic and societal gains.
So the urbanization needs a real connected narrative that should connect these four parts.
Urbanization needs to take the idea of smart, through data, and make the city intelligent. Urban transitions are both physical and technology solutions combining. The solutions need always to change the current performance and delivery of a different sense of hope. A set of solutions that simply improves on the existing. These always come from applying innovation to these four transition needs of the urbanization story, so it becomes a “fertile” place for dynamism, ideas, and where social cohesion can thrive.
We are seeing pockets of progress occurring in many cities, but others are perhaps going backward, take the case of Delhi in India. After the initial reaction to do something, we are past the point of picking off the low hanging fruit; we need to dig deeper into undertaking the urbanization transition. Many of our cities are in real crisis or lacking the transformational plan to take them through their changes required. The hard part of this transition is ahead of us.
So we are not doing enough, but in Mr. Neike’s closing, he struck a highly collaborative note.
So, returning to Mr. Neike’s closing remark was, a call to action: “do it together, do it fast.” This “fast and together” is needed to be highly collaborative energy and urban transition; it involves all of us and requires all of us to come together to resolve the multiple reasons for these transitions I am suggesting go together.
We have highly complex energy and urbanization transitions ahead of us. All I can say is we live in a polluted world, we rely on our energy to power our lives, and we, need to function individually and collectively. We live in a highly connected world, and, it is our “energy” source that makes it happen.
So today we are doing something but tomorrow we have to really learn to work even harder. Why?
Sadly, yesterday, the United States began the process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, notifying the UN of its intention to leave. The notification begins a one-year process of exiting the global climate change accord, culminating the day after the 2020 US election.
That presents even more significant challenges to the battle of achieving the energy transition.
Please visit my post for reflecting on this decision by the US administration: “A dark day for the climate and the fight over global warming?” that is over on my ecosystem and platform posting site.
**Disclosure: Part of my work in research and advising in the energy transition is due to being engaged in the #SiemensInfluencer community or #SIEx. I want to emphasis the opinions and views expressed here are my own and do not reflect those of Siemens.