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New C40 research reveals the cost of fossil gas, showing clean energy is cheaper, creates more jobs and causes less pollution


October 19, 2022

C40 cities can create six times as many jobs and far less pollution if cities invest in renovating buildings and solar power rather than gas powered electricity

© Mischa Keijser / Getty Images

Bold action to phase out fossil gas and expand clean energy could save hundreds of thousands of lives, generate jobs and enable cities to meet their climate targets, groundbreaking new research by C40 suggests.

Fossil gas accounts for roughly one quarter of the world's energy supply, and around one fifth of global CO2 emissions from energy. The use of fossil gas contributes significantly to urban greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and catastrophic climate heating. 

C40's new research shows climate, air quality and health impacts of fossil gas use across electricity, buildings and industry in C40 cities. Its conclusion: Gas use contributes almost as much as coal power plants to premature deaths in 2020. 

The research, which was funded by Wellcome, underscores that clean energy is cheaper, creates more jobs and causes less pollution. Mayors and urban climate leaders from the world's leading cities are set to discuss ways to accelerate the clean energy transition at this week's C40 World Mayors Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Sadiq Khan, C40 Chair and Mayor of London, said: “Fossil fuels are the main cause of the climate emergency. It makes no sense for our cities to continue to invest in the dirty polluting fossil fuel industries of the past. When it comes to tackling air pollution and the climate emergency, cities like London have a responsibility to act. We have to be the doers and not the delayers. We must safeguard our future. I’m calling on cities around the world to follow London’s lead and commit to phasing out their use. There is no time to waste. The cost of inaction, to our economies, livelihoods, and environment is far greater than the cost of transitioning to net zero.”

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said: “Fossil natural gas is an energy choice of the past. That's why Montreal will ban its use in all municipal buildings by 2030. We will also follow a new roadmap to accelerate the transition to heat pumps powered by renewable electricity and other clean energy solutions to heat all buildings in a safe, clean and healthy way by 2040.”

Key takeaways from C40's new report include:

  • Fossil gas air pollution impacts health in cities: Air pollution driven by fossil gas production and consumption caused 35,987 premature deaths in 2020 across C40 cities, 40,327 new cases of asthma in children and 3,317 pre-term births. Modeling suggests that a swift clean energy transition away from gas could avoid as many as 217,045 premature deaths in C40 cities by 2035 and 776,190 by 2050.
  • Clean energy generates economic benefits: Phasing out fossil gas will have huge social and economic benefits. Our modeling shows that a 1.5o Celsius scenario would avoid more than $3.9 trillion in cumulative health economic losses between 2020 and 2050.
  • Clean energy is cheaper than new fossil gas: As of 2022, new fossil gas costs more than solar and wind in countries where 95 out of 96 C40 cities are located, including major fossil gas consumers, such as the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, China and Canada. 
  • Urban climate actions create jobs: The business of renovating buildings and installing solar roofs to power them, in particular, has high employment potential. Investing $1 million in utility-scale solar and wind energy may create 1.7 times the energy of fossil gas power plants. Investing in upgrading and solar-powering buildings may generate six times as many jobs as the same investment in fossil gas.

C40’s report outlines several recommendations for cities seeking to support this transition, and provides examples of cities taking these actions, including the adoption of net-zero targets and policy measures banning new fossil gas sources and appliances, as well as other efforts to flatten the demand curve and making the business case for investing in renewables.

Read C40's report: “The Cost of Fossil Gas: The Health, Economic and Environmental Implications for Cities

View the full press release


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