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  • Writer's pictureEthan Fulton

New podcast: Planning a net-zero future through cities

Cities are at the forefront of fighting climate change. With COP28 recognizing their importance in achieving net-zero emissions, it's not a surprise that they are responsible for 70% of global emissions. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, described cities as "critical climate battlegrounds."

Zest Associates Managing Director Jeffrey Beyer recently moderated Episode 13 of the Future Energy Insights podcast which explored the initiatives, opportunities and challenges in MENA cities working towards a sustainable future.

Click the icon to access the episode.

Three expert panelists joined Beyer:

  1. Jamila El Mir, senior advisor to the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions for COP28

  2. Benjamin Schroeder, Group Chief Communications Officer for the al-Futtaim Group

  3. Ghaith Tibi, Middle East Sustainability Lead for Arup

Some key themes of the discussion:

  1. Cities will be key drivers of climate action. Lots of impact can be made in cities, from green building standards to renewable energy adoption and improving public transportation.

  2. The MENA region faces a unique set of challenges and opportunities. Extreme heat, fossil fuel reliance, water scarcity and urban mobility issues afflict the region. However, digitalized governance is a strength in the UAE's potential to address these challenges and agencies like Masdar are rapidly growing.

  3. Effective climate action requires collaboration and partnerships. Partnerships are essential to scaling sustainability efforts between cities, governments and stakeholders. "Cross-fertilization" across sectors and regions can help cities work together. Tibi mentioned existing coalitions that facilitate partnerships such as the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA).

  4. Net Zero by 2050 is achievable — but challenging. Schroeder acknowledges that progress has been slower than ideal but new fields are emerging. Net zero requires an "all-of-society" approach integrating all sectors as well as a deeper dive into offsetting unavoidable emissions.

Episode 13 of Future Energy Insights illuminates that the journey to sustainability in cities is challenging yet exciting. Cities have a key role in the energy transition and must lead in the transition to net-zero. Continue to tune in to Future Energy Insights for an in-depth look at pressing sustainability and energy topics.


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