The EUROCITIES Environment Forum met in Tampere on the 17-19 October 2018, focusing on the topic of 'Low emission cities for cleaner air and climate change mitigation'.
More than 130 representatives from 44 cities came to Finland in the wake of the recently launched greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) reductions of 40-70% by 2050.and sent a clear 'Call for action' through the on the need for a broader, faster and more ambitious response to achieve the Paris climate agreement objectives, which requires
Participants had the opportunity to discover the latest climate actions in Tampere and its roadmaps on how to become a carbon neutral city by 2030 as well as being inspired by site visits on nature conservation and water reuse, as well as practices on sustainable urban mobility, air quality, energy and digital transformation in the city.
The main messages from the 3 days were:
- Across Europe, cities need to be empowered both financially and politically to take ambitious climate action. National and supranational governments need to set the right governance framework stimulating a vertical integrated multilevel climate action, boosting the ambition and speeding up the implementation of their respective Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).) As underlined by the forum’s speaker Tadashi Matsumoto from the OECD, cities and regions are responsible for 55% of the spending and 64% of investment of public climate action. However, the governments’ subnational spending and investment have seen minimal change in the last years. More funding should be channelled to city authorities, who have a great responsibility for achieving the Paris’ agreement objectives.
- More scientific evidence is needed to ensure a stronger cooperation between different stakeholders, level of government and to grasp the complex interaction of climate change in cities. An improvement of the city emission inventories, shifting from a mere production-based to a full consumption-based approach, can help improving the dialogue between urban practitioners, policy makers and the private sector and underpin the efforts to respond to climate change in cities.
- The Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs) are being used as a framework supporting cities in setting integrated strategies/visions, used to track progress, as well as in communicating and mobilising citizens and stakeholders behind a common goal. SDGs allows for taking a holistic approach where social, economic and environmental dimensions are considered and can help cities delivering effective measures speeding up and strengthening their climate action. Some cities are beginning aligning their budgetary process to earmark funds to SDGs and would seek a partnership among local, national and EU level through a SDGs alliance.
Through the deep-dive sessions participants had the opportunity to discuss different possible measures to cutting cities’ emissions in the energy, transport and building sectors. During the sessions it was clear that cities are:
- Investing in district heating and cooling energy systems
Heating and cooling in our buildings and industry accounts for half of the EU’s energy consumption. In order to meet the Paris Agreement commitments and EU’s GHG reduction targets, cities’ heating and cooling must significantly reduce its energy consumption and fossil fuel use, such as the city of Amsterdam that is currently implementing their strategy to become gas-free by 2050. Other cities like Tampere are developing a comprehensive district heating system largely utilising energy from waste, while Paris set up an innovative district cooling system powered by renewable electricity, which is providing cooling for some of Paris’ landmark galleries and museums, and many offices across the city.
- Developing sustainable transport plans striving for cleaner and fewer cars
The transport sector contributes to almost ¼ of the EU’s GHGs and is the main cause of air pollution in cities. Against this background and the failure of national authorities to enforce type approval regulation, cities like Sofia, are currently measuring real-time car emissions using remote sensing technology such as the ones used in the TRUE Initiative and engaging with citizens to make them aware of their cars’ real emissions. Many cities across the EU - like Antwerp - are also implementing a range of soft and hard measures such as incentivizing modal shift and developing low emission zones and infrastructure as means to have less cars operating in cities.
- Striving to put renovating of building in the political agenda, while securing funding
Findings from the NeZeR project showed that technically, energy use in buildings can be reduced by 50% in average in the EU, with variations from one country to another. It is crucial to set renovation targets at local and national level. Better results are also achieved if improvement measures are made in the local area at the same time as energy efficiency. The city of Uppsala drew attention to the importance of considering the whole life-cycle of buildings, as the energy use from materials, construction process, and end of life of buildings is altogether superior to the energy use during the building’s life.
The cities of Porto and Ghent were elected as chair and vice-chair of the Environment forum and will officially start their mandate after the EUROCITIES Annual conference in Edinburg.
The spring edition of the EUROCITIES Environment forum will take place in Genoa from 3-5th April 2019.