How can cities become 100% renewable?
Technology is only part of the solution,
according to the European Green Capital Network
July 23, 2020
One of Lisbon's PV plants located on the rooftops of the Faculty of Science
IMAGE: flickr.com / Pedro Ré
If the EU is to fulfil its pledge to make Europe the first climate neutral continent by 2050, its cities need to think (and act) beyond borders, consider the social aspects as well as the technological in urban planning, and harness the ideas and potential of their citizens. Cities and urban areas are Europe’s most energy consuming hotspots, where the bulk of the population lives, but they also have the greatest capacity for innovation and change, and therefore need to lead the way.
A retrofitted sports hall Kodeljevo, in Ljubljana
IMAGE: City of Ljubljana
This is the message from the European Green Capital Network, which is due to launch its toolkit ‘How can your city become 100% renewable?’ in the next weeks. By combining the knowledge and experience from Europe’s leading renewable energy experts and urban planners, the Network has created this toolkit to encourage other cities to take the next steps towards a carbon neutral Europe.
Umeå's sustainable University City district
IMAGE: City of Umeå
The toolkit – which includes a brochure, videos and information resources for cities - is not just about increasing renewable energy sources; it is also about improving energy efficiency and reducing energy demand through infrastructure changes in mobility, housing and other sectors. It explores the sustainable neighbourhoods of Umeå (Sweden), the solar energy strategy in Lisbon (Portugal), the retrofitted energy-efficient public buildings of Ljubljana (Slovenia), and regional cooperation for renewable energy in Nuremberg (Germany). Not only does it highlight successes, but it also addresses obstacles faced such as opposition to wind park developments or the resistance to change consumption patterns.
This youth centre in Nuremberg is in a passive house, which combines both a historical and a new building
IMAGE: City of Nuremberg
A clear message from the European Green Capital Network is that energy transitions can take all shapes and sizes, but there is one thing they need to have in common: that the process is inclusive and leaves no-one behind. This means, for example, that cities need to consider the impacts of gentrification when planning housing developments, or the role of gender when working on mobility (in Umeå women are 15-20% more likely than men to choose sustainable transport for the same journey). Above all, the Network highlighted the potential for success if cities work on the energy transition together with their citizens. As stated in the toolkit, cities need to “make energy everybody’s business”. After all, “many people and organisations are eager to play a part in the energy transition. All they need is a space to act. You [the cities] cannot afford to ignore this potential.”
The toolkit will be available on the European Green Capital website:
The European Green Capital Network (EGCN) is a network of former European Green Capital Award winners and finalists. The Network’s role is to:
Member cities include: Stockholm, Hamburg, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Nantes, Copenhagen, Bristol, Ljubljana, Essen, Nijmegen, Oslo, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Freiburg, Münster, Barcelona, Malmö, Nuremberg, Reykjavik, Frankfurt, Brussels, Glasgow, Umeå, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Ghent, Lahti, Tallinn, Lille, Strasbourg, Dijon, Grenoble and Turin.
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