The Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) has launched a new report analysing the extent to which cities are capitalising on the potential of smart environmental opportunities.
The report, Strategy to reality: Getting smart cities to deliver for the environment, finds that cities face huge challenges to deliver their environmental ambitions. Cities that have recorded 2020 emissions targets though the Carbon Disclosure Project are on average still 47% short of meeting those targets. The report also looks at city recycling rates and air pollution.
There is a disconnect between cities’ environmental policies and their smart city strategies, according to the report. Of 12 cities analysed, while all had comprehensive environmental strategies, aside from smart energy management initiatives, cites only on average had one other smart environmental initiative.
Worryingly, the report also revealed that the proportion of smart initiatives that are focused on environmental problems (23%) has not increased over the last five years. In addition, the report finds that a number of factors are holding back the adoption of smart environmental technologies, including:
- Siloed approaches in city governments
- Compliance-led environmental policy making
- Difficulty of developing business models for smart environment innovations
- Procurement methodology
Michael Rudd, co-chair of the EIC smart cities taskforce, commented: “Since 2014, environmental issues have become ever more prominent, with many cities around the world now having net zero targets and setting ambitious goals across topics such as resource use and the circular economy. Development of bespoke smart and digital strategies has become increasingly commonplace.
“Yet despite many individual smart environmental initiatives, it seems that in most cities, smart strategies consistently underplay the value of smart green tech. There are different reasons for this, which the report explores, including the distinct drivers for environmental policy compared to, say, transport, and public procurement systems which are often unsuited to capturing the innovation we see in the smart environmental world.”
Executive director of EIC, Matthew Farrow, said: “Many cities face entrenched environmental challenges - low recycling rates, poor air quality and a struggle to meet emissions targets. We need to leave no stone unturned in the battle to clean up our cities and despite the enthusiasm for the smart city agenda, smart environmental applications have real potential that is not being fully utilised. Cities need to join-up their smart strategies with their environmental ambitions and look again at their procurement practices.”