February 25, 2019

The role of cities in the energy transition

First 2019 event of CEBRI's Energy Working Group, in partnership with Catavento, brought together Dutch specialists, a top technology executive and an expert on urban mobility

Approximately 70% of the global population will live in cities by 2050, from 55% in 2018[1]. Cities are the driving force of the global economy, generating around 80% of the global GDP and are responsible for more than 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions[2]. The impacts of climate change, aging infrastructure, population growth, mass migration, social and economic inequity are all disproportionately borne by urban centers, at the same time as cities are increasingly engaging on robust climate action.[3]

The first 2019 event held by CEBRI’s Energy Working Group, in partnership with Catavento and with the Dutch Consulate’s support, discussed the opportunities and challenges brought to urban centers by the energy transition, including the role of technology and the Brazilian scenario.

The event took place in February 21st, with an opening speech by Jorge Camargo, CEBRI Trustee, followed by a context presentation by Clarissa Lins, Catavento’s founding partner and CEBRI’s senior fellow. The discussion panel was joined by Paul Matthieu – project director for Energy Transition at Nijmegen (Netherlands) -, Hans van Ammers – senior adviser on Climate Mitigation and Adaptation at Arnhem (Netherlands), Marcelo Porto – vice president at IBM Cloud Latin America – and Luis Antonio Lindau – Brazil director at WRI Sustainable Cities. The rich discussions held at the panel provided a diverse and complementary set of visions on the cities’ challenges and opportunities.

The Dutch specialists highlighted in their presentation the example of mid sized “twin cities” that established a robust long term strategy, including a strong network between different stakeholders.  Marcelo Porto, on his turn, emphasized the urgency for cities to leverage on the vast data and technologies available in order to improve decision making and quality of life. Finally, Lindau focused on how urban mobility planning needs to be aligned to global macro trends such as electrification and sharing, pointing out the main challenges in the Brazilian context.

To sum up the event, Clarissa Lins moderated a Q&A round, relying on interesting questions and comments by the audience, that included top executives from various industries, government officials, ambassadors and scholars.

In order to consolidate the issues raised during the event, as well as take a deep dive on global trends and the Brazilian reality, the Catavento team published a paper that can be downloaded here.


[1] UN. “World Urbanization Prospects: The 2018 Revision”. 2018

[3]  100RC. “Cities taking action in building urban resilience”. 2017

[4] C40. “Focused acceleration A strategic approach to climate action in cities to 2030”. 2017