This session was an official side event of the Global Clean Energy Action Forum (GCEAF) – a joint convening of the 13th Clean Energy Ministerial and the 7th Mission Innovation ministerial hosted in Pittsburgh by the U.S. Department of Energy. The 1st GCEAF brought together representatives from international organizations, the private sector, academia, youth activists and governments from 31 countries to accelerate the energy transition.

This panel, co-hosted by WRI and C40 Cities, featured a discussion with city leaders exploring what it takes to successfully pursue renewable energy goals and building decarbonization. Following opening remarks from Kate Johnson (Head of US Federal Affairs, C40) and Sarah Yeager (Climate and Energy Planner, City of Pittsburgh), was a virtual panel discussion featuring Jacek Kiesel (Deputy Director of the Air Quality Protection and Climate Policy Department, City of Warsaw), who discussed how embracing clean energy has been helpful in reducing energy poverty and air pollution (particularly in the winter and throughout Russia’s war in Ukraine), and Sidney Ribaux (Director, Department of Ecological Transition and Resilience, City of Montreal), who discussed building decarbonization and heating in a cold-climate city and lessons learned from Montreal’s contributions to the Province of Quebec’s recent ban on heating oil in new residential constructions starting in 2023. Panelists took a closer look at the key role subnational governments play in achieving national climate goals and advancing a just energy transition.

Following the virtual panel, on-site panelists Angela Tovar (Chief Sustainability Officer, City of Chicago) and Chris Castro (Chief of Staff, Office of State and Community Energy Programs, U.S. Department of Energy) shared how national level programs that support renewable energy deployment can be most effective and helpful for subnational entities, drawing upon their cities’ unique experiences. The city of Chicago recently completed a 100% renewable energy purchase for its municipal facilities that includes a focus on equity and co-benefits to the community through supporting training, apprenticeships and a diverse workforce. This innovative procurement process and other recent experience informed the conversation and gave audience members a look into the creative ways local governments can work toward their clean energy goals. Lori Bird (Director, US Energy, WRI) moderated.

The event also featured keynote remarks from Mayor Michael B. Hancock of the City of Denver and Mayor Jacob Frey of the City of Minneapolis, who both discussed the importance of subnational entities in the global fight against climate change, as well as the urgent need for cities to follow an “equity-first” approach and ensure the benefits of their clean energy initiatives are seen by disadvantaged and climate-vulnerable communities.

Check out recordings of the virtual panel and Mayors Hancock and Frey’s remarks below, and read more discussion highlights here. Sign up for future events and resources on the role of cities in the clean energy transition with WRI and with C40.

For questions, contact Alex Dane ( and Kate Johnson (