A Chinese energy expert on Saturday challenged the global community to accelerate green and low carbon development.

Cheng Zhiqiang, deputy secretary general of Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization (GEIDCO), said that sustainable urban development is faced with climate change, environmental pollution, health and poverty challenges.

“The root cause of these challenges is the over-reliance of cities on fossil fuels for energy production and consumption,” Cheng said while addressing delegates attending a side event on the global stakeholders forum ahead of the UN-Habitat Assembly which will open in Nairobi on Monday.

Cheng noted that at present urban population accounts for 55 percent of the global population, and greenhouse gas emissions account for 70 percent of global emissions.

He added that air pollution kills seven million people every year and over 100 million people have no access to electricity in cities around the world.

“We must make a move that is aimed at reducing the energy challenges that is currently facing the world since energy is important for urban economic and social development,” he warned.

The official told the delegates that the Global Energy Interconnection (GEI) initiative is providing China’s solution on world energy transition, climate change and sustainable development.

He said that GEI that was proposed in September 2015 serves as an important infrastructure platform for large-scale development, transmission and utilization of clean energy resources worldwide.

“GEI promotes the replacement of fossil fuels with clean alternatives such as hydro, solar and wind energy, and replacing coal, oil, gas and firewood with clean electricity in an effort to achieve green and sustainable development,” he added.

Cheng observed that by adopting GEI, the world stands to fundamentally change the pattern of energy development and utilization as it will help solve problems associated with climate, environment and health that are caused by over reliance on fossil fuels in cities.

“It also ensure safe, clean, and efficient energy supply with economic competitiveness, and realize the coordinated and sustainable development of energy and cities,” he said.

Cheng revealed that about 40 percent of electricity in Shanghai city is currently supplied by hydropower, which helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 50 million tonnes and air pollutants by over 700,000 tonnes annually, effectively improving Shanghai’s environmental quality.

The initiative, Cheng noted, also promotes the development of urban smart power grids by applying advanced technologies such as big data, the Internet and artificial intelligence.

“It makes the utilization of distributed wind, solar and storage energy to make urban life better than before,” he said.

The official noted that the initiative is intended to reduce the cost of energy, ensure urban power supply, and realize affordable and sustainable modern energy for all, so as to solve the issues of health and poverty.

“China has more than 500 million smart meters that have been installed to enable comprehensive automatic collection of power consumption information,” he added.

Cheng promised to partner with all parties to build GEI, promote sustainable urban development, and contribute to a better earth.