International Annual Conference 2013 - a retrospect
Together in transition – Empowering Sustainablitity
During the two full days of the International Conference at 16 and 17 May 2013 in The Hague members and partners of Climate Alliance engaged “Together in transition” discussing the role of local authorities in the transition process. Any transition strategy needs to be built from the bottom up and with people becoming more autonomous. Together the process of the energy revolution is easily shifted from central (fossil) to decentralised (renewable).
Below you will find short reports about the conference in The Hague. On our website we have documented the event on the basis of the presentations and photos.
The city council has decided that The Hague should be "carbon neutral" by 2040, presented Rabin Baldewsingh, deputy mayor and Climate Alliance Board member, during his welcoming words. To achieve this government, citizens and economy must work together. The Hague has also launched a funding program for neighbourhoods to develop climate-friendly projects.
Joachim Lorenz, President of Climate Alliance and Permanent Councillor for Health and Environment of the City of Munich, pointed out that the role of local authorities in climate protection must be strengthened, and that Climate Alliance expects the same from the EU.
Diego Escobar, Vice-President of Climate Alliance and Coordinator for Territory, Environment and Biodiversity of COICA, reminded that COICA is one of the co-founders of Climate Alliance. Indigenous peoples are then as now important actors for the necessary transformation.
Together in transition: views from science, marketing and economy
The scientific perspective:
Jan Rotmans is one of the founding fathers of transition theory, studying the fundamental changes in structure, culture and practices of the society. He sees the global energy revolution at a turning point with great dynamic, instability and turbulence. To be successful this process needs a holistic approach, stimulating and stable leadership, sustainability as a guiding principle, clever mobilisation of people and concentration on radical innovations.
The economic perspective:
The Dutch entrepreneur Ruud Koornstra has made it his life goal to promote sustainability. He himself has made the transition from the classical businessman with Porsche and helicopter to a sustainability entrepreneur. His thesis is: "Paradise on Earth can be easily reached. The technology is present. We do not need innovation. We need implementation."
The marketing perspective:
"The story that is told today about climate change is like a nightmare. Many people respond to it by questioning the findings and not coming to take action", said Oliver Lawder of the marketing agency Futerra, which is specialised in communication of sustainability. He stressed that the story should be told differently: "We must get from a nightmare to a vision."
The COICA perspective:
In the final discussion between the speakers and the conference participants Roberto Espinoza, a technician of COICA, stressed that Europe should not forget the rest of the world in its bubble of the lucky ones in a chaotic world.
Future of the energy system in Europe
A more decentralised energy management approach allows for optimisation of the use of local energy resources close to energy consumption, the creation of more jobs and a more certain energy supply. The new European energy and climate package, which is currently under development, will set the course for the future of the European energy system. What role will local authorities play in this new policy framework?
Judith Merkies, Member of the European Parliament, Rebecca Collyer, European Climate Foundation, Thijs de la Court, Board Member at e-Decentraal, Herman Exalto, Director of ENECO Heat & Cold, Leo Freriks, City Account Manager at Siemens Nederlands, and Dr. Werner Neumann, Head of the Municipal Energy Agency of Frankfurt, discussed the future of the energy system in Europe.
Facilitated by Laurentien van Oranje, founder of the Missing Chapter Foundation, it was stressed that the future will be nothing like the past, which is why different, ‘disruptive’ radical new thinking is needed. When it comes to changing the energy system, this will not happen in central institutions like the EU but in the cities themselves. The EU has a vision but is not efficient enough hence no real results can be seen yet. Local authorities therefore should not wait for the national or international level but should instead strive for sustainable and reliable energy themselves. This can and will have a positive impact on the levels above.
The discussants underlined that a top-down approach is not working anymore. Learning with and from the citizens is crucial. As a big, unexploited resource they must be considered in greater depth and supported by the local authorities in their own efforts to make the energy system sustainable. Energy efficiency is also decisive for a future energy system. However, to avoid a rebound effect, awareness-raising of the potential consequences of consumption has to be addressed, too.
The General Assembly on 16 May 2013 elected Rainer Handlfinger, Mayor of the Austrian municipality of Ober-Grafendorf, to the executive board of Climate Alliance for the first time. Congratulations!
No further changes of the executive board occurred. Four members of the board presented themselves as candidates right on schedule and were elected again. Eight board members were elected last year and will remain in office.
The current executive board of Climate Alliance is composed of:
President: Joachim Lorenz, Permanent Councillor for Health and Environment of the City of Munich (DE)
Vice-President: Diego Iván Escobar Guzman, Coordinator for Territory, Environment and Biodiversity of COICA
Treasurer: Rosemarie Heilig, City Councillor for Environment and Health of the city of Frankfurt am Main (DE)
Keeper of the Minutes: Camille Gira, Mayor of the municipality of Beckerich (LU)
Further members of the board are: Dr. Simona Arletti, Environment Councillor of the city of Modena (IT), Rabin Baldewsingh, Deputy Mayor for Public Health, Sustainability, Media and Municipal Organisation of the city of The Hague (NL), Tom Balthazar, Alderman for Environment of the city of Ghent (BE), Freddy Brunner, City Councillor of the city of St.Gallen (CH), Pascale Chiron, Vice President of Nantes Métropole (FR), Rainer Handlfinger, Mayor of the municipality of Ober-Grafendorf (AT), Joan Puigdollers I Fargas, Deputy President of Natural Spaces and Environment of Barcelona Provincial Council (ES), Dr. Karl-Ludwig Schibel, Città di Castello (IT), and Mag. Eva Schobesberger, Councillor of the city of Linz (AT).
Resolution: Local governments and the energy system in 2030
On 16 May 2013 in The Hague the General Assembly of Climate Alliance unanimously adopted a resolution on the EU climate and energy policies in light of the 2030 framework.
Climate Alliance calls for binding and ambitious targets for energy efficiency, renewable energy and CO2 emission reductions. In addition the EU Emissions Trading System needs to be strengthened. If it fails, the only way to ensure necessary emission reductions will be a carbon tax.
“A more decentralised energy management system would enable better use of local energy resources close to where energy is consumed” noted Joachim Lorenz, President of Climate Alliance. But what we still lack is support from the European level. The EU energy policy needs to put emphasis on demand side management and increasing the share of renewable energy, and recognize and support local authorities with adequate policies, and financing. Securing long term financing is crucial to help enabling implementation of long term strategies such as Climate Plans and Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs) locally. More attention needs to be placed on introducing innovative financing models, and redefining and improving existing funding schemes.
The recently launched Green Paper does not mention at all the local authorities. The members of Climate Alliance have been working for a long time to reduce their CO2 emissions, and the Covenant of Mayors initiative has more than 4500 signatories committed to go beyond the EU energy and climate targets set for 2020.
Local governments have a central role in bringing together the private sector and other stakeholders to develop and implement new ideas and innovations in the field of climate and energy, and thus facilitating the transition towards a more sustainable future. Without local governments, Europe will not achieve its targets.
Here is the resolution
Climate Alliance International Conference 2014
Next year’s International Conference and General Assembly will take place at 8 and 9 May 2014 in Luxembourg. We welcome your participation!
Covenant of Mayors and its perspectives
For the first time, committed Mayors and aldermen from EU and eastern neighbouring countries were gathered around the same table to share their crossed-perspectives regarding the future of the Covenant of Mayors initiatives. During this political debate, all local leaders expressed their need of adequate support to implement their ambitious plans, stay on course towards meeting their CO2 reduction target and ensure lasting impacts on the ground:
- Arnoud Rodenburg, Mayor of Midden-Delfland (NL), said that we should find together a way ahead, by focusing now on the 2030 horizon.
- Dr. Franz Bachmann, City Councillor of Judenburg (AT), asked for more support, more guidance, – maybe even more control – from the Commission.
- Joan Puigdollers i Fargas, Deputy President of Natural Spaces and Environment at Barcelona Provincial Council (ES), pointed out that “the Commission should well listen to the needs expressed by local and regional authorities”; the particular specificities of the regions must be taken into account.
- Holger Matthäus, Senator for Environment in Rostock (DE), and Jemal Ananidze, Mayor of Batumi (GE), highlighted the fact that it is always very profitable to set up transnational cooperation partnerships.
- Volodymyr Garazd, Mayor of Dolyna (UA), and Jemal Ananidze outlined that the biggest challenge today is to mobilise sufficient financing resources: “Technical support is already provided by networks such as Climate Alliance or ‘Energy Efficient Cities of Ukraine’. The Commission should support us in dealing with the lack of financing.”
According to Ádám Szolyák, Policy Officer at the European Commission (DG Energy), one of the main challenges of the forthcoming period is the consolidation of the initiative - in partnership and in coordination with all levels of government. Concrete results have already been achieved on the technical and sectoral sides, but new needs are emerging. The big success of the initiative poses equally significant challenges – the Commission, together with the Covenant of Mayors Office and the Joint Research Centre, are consolidating the SEAP processes.
Resources for the transition – a global perspective
The global consumption of resources and its consequences built the focus of this workshop. All, the sugarcane cultivation for biofuels in the Philippines (Birgit Engel, ASTM Luxembourg), the gold mining in Suriname (Josien Aloema Tokoe, Indigenous Organisation of Suriname), and the large-scale projects in Brazil (Emil Benes, Climate Alliance Austria) trigger land conflicts and have massive social impact for the affected, mostly indigenous population. Guido Enthoven (Institute for Global Justice, The Hague) presented a proposal for conflict resolution and Thomas Rahne (Geoscopia, Bochum) reported on an educational project with satellite imagery that transports the issues of climate change and resources in schools. Finally Edwin Vásquez (COICA) stressed that the society in north and south must change and should be part of a global transformation process that focuses on social and environmental sustainable consumption and production patterns.
During the session four speakers presented available both existing financing schemes and challenges encountered in financing climate and energy projects. Innovative ways of financing at local and regional level will play a crucial role in supporting activities and projects that tackle climate change, renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Siward Zomer, the Dutch coordinator for the European REScoop 20-20-20 project, presented the booming of energy cooperatives and the cooperative model as a way to finance local energy investments. Daniel Willeke from German Service and Competence centre for Local Climate Protection presented the German model offering multi-faced funding for local authorities in climate change mitigation.
Dorine Putman from ASN Bank gave an insight view on setting up an investment fund in the Dutch Province of Overijssel with recommendations on what should be considered in setting up such an investment fund. And finally Jan Dictus from Goja Consulting representing the CASH project presented a concept for financing energy investments in social housing. An investment fund, which would be partly revolving was proposed.
After the presentations the feasibility of investment funds was further debated. Investment funds are suitable for investments with fairly short payback periods. Costly investments with long payback periods would need other solutions, such as grants or zero interest loans. However, investment funds are worth investigating further because the EU funding, in particular the cohesion policy funding for 2104-2020 foresees that a part of the budget will be used for financing instruments such as investment funds. These new type of financing instruments will also require a new approach for managing and using structural funds.
You and your local transition
Donald van de Akker from Oprit Duurzaamheid, Douwe Jan Jouwstra from One Planet Architecture Institute, and Thijs de la Court, alderman of the city of Lochem, presented the concept of transition towns. A transition, a fundamental change to our entire system (structure, culture, method) as we know it is needed. The strategy of former times of decoupling the economic growth from the resource use is today being replaced by the coupling of economy and ecology. However, it must be borne in mind that such a transition is chaotic, radical and will take a long time.
By changing the system, local authorities will assume a new role: they must be facilitators and agents for change rather than policy makers. This implies that cities and municipalities must strengthen civil society and support the processes arising as a consequence. Grass-roots initiatives should be encouraged to come up with solutions for present-day issues instead of the local authority itself. The simple participation of citizens should be replaced by bottom-based entrepreneurship and extensive cooperation between local authority and the civil sector. However, cities and municipalities must validate the quality of processes and help in the search for solutions to both consider and address all arguments (pros and cons!).