A stronger role for the local level in the international climate process
by Thomas Brose
The Paris Accord was not only a diplomatic success in the international climate process; it has also brought forth a fundamental change of perspective compared to the Kyoto Protocol. While the Kyoto Protocol set internationally binding reduction targets, the Paris Agreement calls on nations to make their own commitments on emission reductions and adaptation measures in accordance with their national capabilities.
National strategies are the central instrument in the Paris Agreement. These so-called NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions) thus also serve as a vital link between the international, national and local levels. Now municipalities do not just have a theoretical obligation to participate in the drawing up of national plans, they also have been given international legitimacy – evident even in the preamble to the Paris Agreement.
By shaping the NDCs, cities and regions can make an active contribution to achieving and implementing national plans. The best way to do this should be elaborated by both political representatives and city networks.
New Climate Alliance members
We heartily welcome twelve new Climate Alliance members: in Austria the municipalities of Alpbach, Kittsee, Sankt Radegund und Schörfling a. A., in Germany the Cities of Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, Norden and Wörth am Rhein as well as the municipality Wiesent and the district of Coburg, in Italy the municipality of Marcallo con Casone and in the Ukraine the City of Brody as well as the first Greek local authority, the municipality of Thermi. We’re happy to have you in the network!
As of December 2017, Climate Alliance membership includes 1655 cities, towns and districts as well as 61 provinces, NGOs and other organisations from a total of 27 countries.
Climate Alliance review of the 23rd UN Climate Summit in Bonn
Climate Alliance’s perspectives on the year’s most important climate conference have now been published for all to see. This year, the network enjoyed a strong presence at the two week event with involvement in a variety of workshops and its own stand at the exhibition. Over 300 individuals and groups stopped by Climate Alliance’s booth to be photographed with their messages for the future. A total of 14 municipal representatives greatly bolstered the association’s delegation by serving as Climate Alliance Ambassadors to COP23. The online review includes the impressions of the ambassadors as well as Climate Alliance’s take on the negotiations, a summary of network activities and various photo galleries.
Climate Alliance Conference 2017
This year's Climate Alliance Conference and General Assembly took place in the German city of Essen from 20 to 22 September. There, the General Assembly adopted the two resolutions “Cities, municipalities and regions as driving forces for climate mitigation and sustainability – a good life for all” and “Implementing adaptation to climate change at the municipal level”. Results, presentations and photos of in situ sessions, workshops and plenary sessions can be found on our website. We look forward to seeing you in Barcelona for the 2018 Annual Conference from 1 to 3 October.
Climate Alliance Austria establishes new national association
After 27 years, Climate Alliance Austria has become an association of its own. “In this way, cities and towns will have more opportunities to actively shape their network,” stresses Director Markus Hafner-Auinger. Climate Alliance in Austria was initiated and run by environmental and development organisations. Austrian municipalities were, until now, only members of the European umbrella organisation Climate Alliance. Through the founding of a new national association, the cities and towns will now get a more central role in Austria.
A pathway approach for climate change adaptation at the local level
11 December 2017, Webinar from 10:00 - 11:45 CET
Planning for adaptation and selecting the right measures to implement while coping with a wide range of uncertainties is a challenge for many local authorities. The goal of this webinar, organised by Climate Alliance within the framework of the Covenant of Mayors, is to tackle this issue.
International Climate Alliance Conference
1 - 3 October 2018 in Barcelona
The 2018 International Climate Alliance Conference and General Assembly will take place from 1 to 3 October in Barcelona. Please save the date!
Awards for local authorities
Climate Star 2018 “Diversity in local climate action”
In 2018, for the eighth time, Climate Alliance is calling on cities, towns, districts and municipal networks in the Climate Alliance network to apply for a Climate Star. Your contribution illustrates an important part of the Climate Alliance vision. Help show that Europe can rely on strong local partners in Climate Alliance in the field of climate change and climate justice. Please send us your application by 30 March 2018. The award ceremony will be held on invitation of the Federal State of Lower Austria on 18 October 2018 and will take place, as in 2016, at Schloss Grafenegg.
UN SDG Challenge Awards - call for nominations
The call for nominations for the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Action Challenge Awards is now open. NGOs, individuals and local authorities are being sought worldwide that have made a decisive contribution to sustainable development and have advanced the Agenda 2030. Nominations may be submitted until 15 January 2018. The award ceremony will take place on 21 March 2018 as part of a festival in Bonn.
Four Italian local authorities adopt Climate Alliance Resolution
The South Tyrolean market municipality of Campo Tures, the cities of Merano and Vipiteno as well as the southern Italian municipality of Craco have already adopted the Climate Alliance resolution “Local and regional authorities as drivers of climate action and sustainability ‒ towards a good life for all”. The resolution, adopted by the Climate Alliance's General Assembly in September 2017, reaffirms the importance of global partnerships to fight climate change and its unavoidable consequences. It underlines its support for the indigenous Climate Alliance partners in the Amazon rainforest by recognising their land rights and their right to self-determination and advocates climate justice.
Young climate activists at UN conference
At the UN Climate Change Conference kindergarteners from Bonn presented 2.3 million Green Footprints collected by 205,577 young climate activists across Europe to Patricia Espinosa, head of the UN Climate Secretariat, and Frank Bainimarama, Prime Minister of the Fiji Islands and President of the 23rd Climate Conference. Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg from Luxembourg and her colleague Andrä Rupprechter from Austria were also present and congratulated the children on their inspiring efforts. This year marked the 15th anniversary of Climate Alliance's Green Footprints campaign. Over 1,400 schools in ten European countries took part. The initiative encourages children to reflect on sustainable mobility and lifestyle choices. “Children can be great drivers of positive change. By motivating them to protect the climate, we see a ripple effect that really spreads – not only to their friends, families and their teachers,” explains Climate Alliance Executive Director Thomas Brose.
CITY CYCLING record year comes to an end – 42 million kilometres cycled
CITY CYCLING celebrated the end to a successful tenth year this November in the City of Stuttgart (DE) with a ceremony honouring the most active municipalities. During the festivities, Climate Alliance Executive Director Thomas Brose and the region’s Minister of Transport, Winfried Hermann, personally conferred awards to 2017’s winners. This year not only marked ten years of CITY CYCLING, but was also the 200th anniversary of invention of the bicycle. With 620 participating municipalities and more than 220,000 cyclists, all previous records were far exceeded. For the first time ever, municipalities from outside of Germany were also eligible to participate in the campaign.
Award for short film on near-surface geothermal energy
A short film by EU-funded GRETA project has won an award for best communication of a complex topic. The EU Strategy for the Alpine Region awarded its video competition prize to the film, which promotes the use of near-surface geothermal energy in municipalities. “Near-surface geothermal energy is rarely integrated into municipal energy planning. This video and the Greta project aim to make this sustainable energy source more accessible,” explained Andreas Kress, Greta project manager at the Climate Alliance. By December 2018, GRETA aims also to provide instruments and information to facilitate the integration of near-surface geothermal energy into municipal energy plans.
Climate Protection starts in the Neighbourhood!
The year-end Climate Active Neighbourhoods (CAN) newsletter is out featuring an interview with a representative from the City of Arnhem (NL) and other project information. The EU project, led by the Climate Alliance, aims to strengthen climate protection at the neighbourhood level with a focus on socially disadvantaged neighbourhoods. The project is helping municipalities take on new roles in responding to the needs of such neighbourhoods and bringing them into harmony with municipal climate protection concepts. They develop and test concepts such as “Transition Tours” in Worms, which break with traditional energy consumption habits and initiate long-term behavioural changes. In spring 2018, Climate Alliance will make information on methods and instruments for cooperation at the neighbourhood level available. Further information can be found in the current project newsletter.
Indigenous “Guardians of the Forest” travelled through Europe as ambassadors
Indigenous decision-makers from Central America, Amazonia, Indonesia and the Congo Basin travelled across Europe in October and November 2017 on their way to the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn. During their tour, the “Guardians of the Forest” sought out further allies in rainforest and climate protection while reporting on the often life- threatening situations indigenous peoples face worldwide. The first stop of their trip took them to the Climate Alliance city of Cologne, which has entered into a partnership with Shipibo-Conibo communities in Peru. “We support these indigenous forest peoples in their struggle to save their territories,” affirmed Cologne's Mayor Andreas Wolter, welcoming the delegation in the city hall. Further stations of the indigenous peoples on their journey were the Climate Alliance Conference in Essen as well as Paris, London and Brussels.
Report “The Future We Want”
In seeking to answer the question of how to reach a good life for all, Climate Alliance worked with partners to bring indigenous ‘ambassadors for sustainability’ on multiple visits to Europe. The European local authorities involved exchanged views with the representatives from the Amazon basin to see how to translate their knowledge into our life and culture. Based on these experiences, a brochure divided into three parts has been developed. It brings together the results of exchanges with our partners of the Global South as well as a set of political recommendations for the local and regional, national and the EU level. The visits as well as the report were made possible via the EU funded project, The Future We Want.
Eurostat gauges EU progress on Sustainable Development
Sustainable Development is firmly anchored in European treaties and has been at the heart of European policy for a long time. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015, give a new impetus to global efforts for achieving sustainable development. The EU is fully committed to playing an active role to maximise progress towards the SDGs. In November 2017 Eurostat published a monitoring report on how the EU as a whole implements the 17 SDGs, showing “significant” progress in five of them and “moderate” progress for eight others.
Tropical forests are a net carbon source
The carbon balance of tropical ecosystems remains uncertain reports a new study by the University of Boston and the Woods Hole Research Center, with top-down atmospheric studies suggesting an overall sink and bottom-up ecological approaches indicating a modest net source. Although the forests in South America, Africa and Asia have absorbed 437 million tons of carbon per year, they have released 862 million tons. Almost 70 percent of the losses are not due to deforestation, however, but to small disturbances and degradation such as forest damage that leads to a lower carbon density. On satellite images, only the clear cut is visible, not the condition of the existing forests – which is continuing to worsen.
New twinning programme within the Covenant of Mayors
The new Covenant Twinning program launched this year is inviting municipalities to reach out and seek inspiration from peers. Climate Alliance member cities Ghent (BE) and Albertslund (DK) have both been selected to take part in the new programme. The City of Ghent will be twinning with the Finnish City of Vaasa, whereas the City of Albertslund has been selected to collaborate with the City of Ljungby in Sweden. All four cities are already strong in the climate and energy field with different areas of expertise. Seeing how this expertise will be exchanged to strengthening individual and joint efforts even further will be exciting. The twinning comprises of a series of meetings and study trips with detailed reports so that interested parties may also benefit.
Interview on energy management in the municipal building administration
In an interview with Dr. Karl-Ludwig Schibel of Climate Alliance Italy, Alexander Nordhus, responsible for the energy efficiency management of the municipal buildings department in the German city of Nuremberg, describes the successes and challenges of municipal energy management. The City of Nuremberg is a partner in EDI-Net, a Climate Alliance project funded by the EU. EDI-Net helps municipalities shape sustainable energy policy with the smart meter data on energy and water consumption in municipal buildings. Renewable energy systems and building energy management systems are also analysed within the project in order to reduce energy consumption and thus save money.
New Digital Social Platform for water related issues is online!
If drinking water is scarce in your community or if your population is at risk of surface water floods, then the new Digital Social Platform is right for you. This interactive website is filled with expert information about water related issues and used to communicate these issues to decision makers, key stakeholders and the public in order to increase awareness. Everyone can join in. The Digital Social Platform was created as part of the EU project POWER, in which Climate Alliance, the UK cities of Leicester and Milton Keynes as well as the two water supply companies of Jerusalem (Israel) and Sabadell (Spain) are participating. Take advantage of the experiences this platform has to offer!
New publications of the Covenant of Mayors
There are a number of new publications coming out of the Covenant of Mayors that cities and towns can take advantage of! The new Covenant of Mayors leaflet on financing local climate and energy action is a helpful financing guide with a series of case studies on innovative financing schemes. The new adaptation city profile factsheets can also provide inspiration: you’ll find factsheets on Bratislava, which took part in the adaptation working group in Essen, as well as on Antwerp, Glasgow, Thessaloniki and Vantaa. The case studies present successful initiatives and policies implemented on the local level, showing concrete results in terms of sustainable local development. They have been produced in cooperation with the Covenant of Mayors Office. To submit your success stories and get more information about the process, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Europe and the energy transition
In his book “Energy Transformation. An Opportunity for Europe”, Claude Turmes, a long-standing member of the European Parliament and former Climate Alliance coordinator in Luxembourg, traces the history of the energy revolution from a European perspective, marked by both progress and setbacks. He explains how policymakers in Brussels are setting the course for, but also against, this task of the century. The book uncovers the fierce political battles that have taken place within EU institutions over the last 15 years – on the one hand, the architects of the energy revolution and, on the other, the preventers and corporate lobbyists.
The Covenant of Mayors Ceremony
22 February 2018 in Brussels
Next year will mark the 10 year anniversary of the Covenant of Mayors, an exciting EU initiative that Climate Alliance has helped shape. You are cordially invited to the 2018 Covenant of Mayors Ceremony, which will showcase how local governments develop integrated climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, transport or lighting, make greater use of renewable energy, and brace for climate hazards.