Escalating fossil fuels costs and rising concern over the related impacts of a changing global climate together with declining costs and increased efficiency of renewable energy sources have stimulated the quest for sustainable energy resources. Renewable energy uses natural resources through differing technologies such as solar power, wind power, biomass, geothermal, and various others as mechanisms to produce energy, mostly through electricity and heat. The challenges posed by energy, climate change, and urban-regional development intersect in important ways.
The Rockefeller Foundation’s President, Judith Rodin, gave a plenary lecture during the American Association for the Advancement of Science 2008 annual meeting (Rodin 2008). She drew stark attention the urban-poverty-climate change nexus. With reference to Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)., Rodin argued that “environmental degradation, climate change, and poverty are inextricably connected” ...and that, “unplanned urbanization in the developing world will exacerbate the impacts of climate change already experienced by the rural poor.” Rodin cited a UN-HABITAT study projecting that within three decades, one of every three people on earth will live in “near total squalor: packed tightly on ecologically fragile land, lacking sanitation and clean water, vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather.” Dryer conditions punctuated by more extreme weather events (rainstorms) could wreak havoc in certain regions of the world. There is rising concern that climate change may see higher levels of certain types of water- and food-borne contamination along with an increase in certain diseases transmitted by insects (e.g., Lyme disease, West Nile Virus and Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome) (UNEP 2007). At the same time, sea-level rise may inundate low-lying coastal areas.