RioPlus Business Focus: Local action in Europe

By Monica Sirbu, Climate Alliance

The Climate Alliance of European Cities with Indigenous Rainforest Peoples is the largest European network of local and regional authorities dedicated to climate protection.

Climate Alliance represents more than 1,500 local authorities in 17 European countries. When becoming a member of Climate Alliance, cities and municipalities commit to the ambitious target to reduce their CO2 emissions by 10 % every 5 years and to halve them by 2030 (baseline year 1990).

Climate Alliance provides support to the municipalities by fostering exchange of experience, developing methods and tools for cities to set up and implement climate action plans and organising campaigns to involve citizens directly in the design of a sustainable energy future.

The Hague (New ways of working, green economy and business)

The Hague aims to be carbon neutral by 2040 (© Den Haag Marketing Jurjen Drenth)

The city of The Hague, member of Climate Alliance, aims to be climate-neutral by 2040.The City, its citizens and businesses cooperate in order to reduce to zero CO2 emissions generated by the use of electricity, gas, heating and cooling systems and transport.

A unique and sustainable geothermal heating project is being realised in the south-western part of The Hague. Geothermal energy extracted from a depth of 2,000 metres will heat 4,000 new and existing homes and 20,000 m2 of business space. The Hague is the first city in the Netherlands that uses geothermal energy on such a large scale.

Since January 2009, The Hague has used seawater to heat and cool approximately 800 homes. A combined heat and power station draws energy from the water of the North Sea, and provides the houses with a comfortable inner climate. This system requires only half the amount of energy compared to central heating in individual homes, and has won the Climate Alliance Climate Star in 2009.

A growing number of so-called ‘sustainability arenas’ are active in The Hague.

Members of these arenas measure their improvements by means of an environmental barometer and compare their performance (e.g. energy consumption per kilogram of printed goods). Various members of the ‘Sustainable Printing Arena’ print CO2-neutral, with others considering joining.

Theatres committed to sustainability will replace their incandescent lighting with LEDs to the greatest extent possible.

The city of The Hague stimulates its citizens to join forces with their neighbours in sustainability working groups, 11 of them already being active today. They work together to save costs in energy saving and production, and to learn about energy saving techniques.

Munich (Climate mitigation and finance)

According to a 2004 study, Munich could lower emissions by 50% by 2025 ( © City of Munich)

As early as 1991 – upon first joining the Climate Alliance – the city of Munich committed to the target of halving local CO2 emissions by 2010. In the subsequent years, numerous measures to mitigate climate change were implemented, but it soon became evident that the target could not be attained within this period.

This led to the Öko Institut Freiburg (Freiburg’s Institute for Applied Ecology) being commissioned to conduct a study in 2004 into the amount of CO2, which could be reduced with an active but affordable local climate policy under the current national framework conditions.

According to the resulting study, a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be possible by 2025 (from the baseline year of 1990) if a very ambitious local climate policy were implemented.

Achieving this target would mean using all expertise currently available in addition to measures not yet considered economically viable in 2004 (due to energy prices). The proposed measures are the most efficient locally available measures in the following priority areas: retrofitting of the existing building stock, standards for new buildings, energy efficient appliances, changes in behaviour of users, and the promotion of cycling and walking as modes of transport.

For more than 20 years, a funding programme has encouraged energy efficient building refurbishment in Munich. The funding addresses owners of both private and commercial buildings and can be combined with other funding schemes. It covers a wide range of measures such as building insulation, heat generation and solar thermal systems.

All measures have to fulfill the “quality standards of the city of Munich”.

Local Climate Protection: Lauf a.d. Pegnitz

By 2030 Lauf wants to switch completely to renewables (© City of Lauf a.d Pegnitz)

Lauf a.d. Pegnitz has set itself an ambitious target: by 2030, the town intends to switch completely to renewable energies. It has initiated an integrated climate protection concept and successfully completed the first measures.

Since 2010, the city of Lauf has been working with an integrated climate protection plan, and since May 2011, a climate protection manager has promoted its realisation. He develops and maintains an energy and climate protection controlling system.

Lauf is all set for climate protection. The town on the river Pegnitz realises modernisations and energetic improvements in its communal buildings in order to save energy and to save the climate.

The town proudly presents its first successes: every year it saves far over 750 tons of CO2 thanks to contracting focused on energy-saving, modern heating and lighting systems, the recycling of foul gases from its municipal sewage treating plant for energy and heating, and more efficient lighting in its streets.

An example for the synergy effects in communal climate protection is the modernisation of the Heuchlinger School in Lauf during the summer of 2011. Its energy balance benefits greatly from improved roof insulation – thermal loss has sunk to ten percent compared to before the renovation. With the stairwells and parts of the façade optimised, too, the environment is saved 15,5 tons of CO2  emissions every year.

That is still not all: The Lauf municipal utility has rented the renovated roof for a solar plant. An expected annual production of 25.600 kWh means another CO2 reduction of approximately 13 tons.

Since 2009, the town of Lauf, its public utility and its gas company have helped Lauf citizens with investments in sustainable technologies and energy-saving measures. The municipal subsidies alone produce a yearly reduction of at least 240 tons of CO2 – and more projects are already being realized.

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