Cork has been selected as the first city in Ireland to take part in the Net Zero Carbon Cities programme. Net Zero Carbon Cities is a global World Economic Forum (WEF) initiative run in collaboration with Accenture. The initiative aims to accelerate progress towards Net Zero in key cities around the world.
Accenture convened 18 organisations including University College Cork (UCC) who supported the initiative by preparing a first of its kind emissions baseline for Cork city. The data found that the top three emissions drivers are: transport, built environment, and power and energy. According to the study:
· Local transport contributes 31% of Cork city emissions.
· Built environment accounts for 27% of Cork’s city’s emissions, with this percentage split across domestic and commercial building energy use (3:1).
· Power and energy infrastructure in Cork city constitute 36% of local emissions.
The additional 17 organisations from the Cork community, who share the unifying ambition of transitioning to Net Zero and developing tangible long-term solutions for Cork city include AIB, Cork City Council, ESB, Gas Networks Ireland, and Musgrave.
A series of workshops were facilitated by Accenture, where the participating organisations established how the above drivers relate to Cork city. Information regarding transport/modal habits, the energy efficiency of domestic and commercial buildings, and the current state of power and energy infrastructure for Cork city were some of the areas assessed as part of this process.
Niamh O’Gorman, Sustainability Lead for Accenture in Ireland, commented on the programme: “Cities represent the biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity to tackle climate change as we know that cities consume 78% of the world’s primary energy and generate more than 70% of global carbon emissions.
This initiative is timely with Cork having also been selected among the pioneer participants in the European Commission’s Climate-Neutral & Smart Cities Mission, to navigate and accelerate the local journey to transition ahead of current targets. Accenture was blown away by participation in the Initiative. The Cork pilot saw leading companies and public sector representatives come together quickly to determine the opportunities for Cork city and, importantly, begin identifying the solutions to reduce emissions.
The themes of enhancing public awareness and sharing data amongst organisations were common across all of the solutions proposed and we look forward to the next phase of this programme.”
Karen O’Regan, Strategy Lead for Accenture in Ireland and a lead on Accenture’s World Economic Forum work, added: “The urgency of the climate crisis demands immediate action in order to turn ambition into progress. It was a privilege to see how quickly this group of committed local and national leaders came together with a real appetite for action. Cork has a wonderful opportunity now to lead in the transition to Net Zero, generating a positive impact for the people, communities and businesses in the city.”
Catherine O’Brien, a lead facilitator on the Net Zero Carbon Cities Cork initiative, said “I was truly energised by the collaborative approach of all stakeholders, actively working together in recognition of the scale of the challenge ahead. We are very proud of convening this group to help foster a public-private collaboration that we hope will bridge the gap across the energy, built environment and transport sectors.”
The aim now is for participating organisations to continue to drive the initiative and focus on tailored solutions to curb emissions across the areas of transport, built environment, and power and energy, and fostering public and private sector partnerships to decarbonise Cork.
As the World Economic Forum’s knowledge partner, Accenture supported the creation of a Toolbox of Solutions, which consists of more than 300 solutions to curbing emissions, including technology applications, policy measures, financing models, and community engagement programmes.