Why Climate Neutrality needs Circularity

“How we make and use products and how we produce food generates almost half of the emissions in our current economic system because the production of goods and infrastructure generates emissions all along value chains,” said Mayor Minna Arve of Turku, Finland, at ICLEI’s July Race-to-Zero dialogue, which brought together many levels of government to reflect on local governments’ efforts to become climate neutral.

Cities typically build their climate plans and measure progress using production-based carbon inventories. These inventories map how much carbon is emitted by different sectors that operate within cities’ administrative boundaries and it is therefore mainly these emissions that are targeted in local mitigation efforts. Tackling production-based emissions is critical to the success of the Paris Agreement but it’s only half of the picture. Cities have to be looking at consumption-based emissions, too. These so-called indirect emissions are proving to be the blind spot of current mitigation efforts.

“How we make and use products and how we produce food generates almost half of the emissions in our current economic system because the production of goods and infrastructure generates emissions all along value chains,”

Estimates by C40 prove Mayor Arve’s point – the emissions induced by consumption in cities are likely to be at least as high as the emissions directly linked to local production. Because production systems are fragmented, the consumption levels in cities create indirect emissions that often arise far from the place of consumption.

Learnings from Turku, Finland

The city of Turku, Finland, is one of 449 cities that have joined Race to Zero, a global campaign gathering actors outside national governments that committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest. The objective is to build momentum around the shift to a decarbonized economy ahead of the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), where governments must strengthen their contributions to the Paris Agreement to ensure they are on track to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

the emissions induced by consumption in cities are likely to be at least as high as the emissions directly linked to local production. Because production systems are fragmented, the consumption levels in cities create indirect emissions that often arise far from the place of consumption.

With its climate plan binding the city to become climate neutral by 2029, Turku is well ahead of the 2050 deadline. The city has already cut its emissions by half compared to 1990 levels, thanks to investments in renewable energy, decarbonizing district heating and low-carbon transport.

However the carbon footprint of individual consumption in Finland remains particularly high. According to the 1.5 Degree Lifestyles report by Sitra and IGES, Finns emit on average 10,4 tCO2e per capita per year, a footprint that would need to become ten times smaller by 2050 to meet the 1.5 degree target.

With this in mind, Turku is looking to mobilize local actors and investing in the circular economy, a resource management framework that prioritizes regenerative resources, preserves what is already made, uses waste as a resource and generates new business models to decrease extraction needs.

Mayor Minna Arve and the city of Turku are focusing on the circular economy as a tool to address the challenge of consumption-based emissions. “Circular economy is an efficient tool to address these hidden emissions because it targets the design of products and aims at reducing resource extraction as early in the supply chain as possible.”, Arve pointed out at the Race to Zero dialogues. “Turku is the first city linking the circular economy to its climate plan to help address greenhouse gas emissions in a systemic manner and beyond its jurisdictional boundaries.”

“Circular economy is an efficient tool to address these hidden emissions because it targets the design of products and aims at reducing resource extraction as early in the supply chain as possible.”

How the circular economy can help

The Circular Turku roadmap will target five key sectors (food, transport and logistics, buildings and construction, energy and water) to identify interventions that would support a transition to zero emission and zero waste.

These efforts build on existing work around the circular economy in Turku. The city has been supporting circular economy initiatives and innovations that reduce demand for primary resource extraction and make best use of existing materials, thereby contributing indirectly to climate neutrality goals.

Read more >>> HERE

Bangkok on track for more green spaces with park on old train line

Sky park shows how space-starved cities can repurpose unused land for green spaces that can ease the effects of climate change

By Rina Chandran

The Phra Pok Klao Sky Park in Bangkok, which is scheduled to open later this month, connects neighbourhoods on either side of the Chao Phraya river and was built on an elevated rail line that lay unused for more than three decades.

“It is an example of how to repurpose an abandoned structure and increase green spaces in Bangkok through cost-effective design,” said Niramon Serisakul, director of Urban Design and Development Center, a consultancy that led the project.

“It may not be large, but it has outsized importance as a catalyst for urban regeneration, and can change the way people look at public spaces,” she said.

It is an example of how to repurpose an abandoned structure and increase green spaces in Bangkok through cost-effective design

“The effects of climate change are being felt more, so we need more green spaces,” Asawin Kwanmuang, governor of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, said at a ceremony to plant trees ahead of the park’s opening.

“Our goal is to increase green space in Bangkok from about 6 square metres (65 sq ft) per person to 9 square metres per person. At the same time, we want to reduce the number of cars and make the city more walkable,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The park, measuring 280 metres by 8 metres, makes it easier for residents to access nearby schools, markets and places of worship, said Niramon.

At the same time, we want to reduce the number of cars and make the city more walkable.

The goal is to replicate Paris’s “15-minute city”, where people can reach their destination within 15 minutes of walking, cycling or using mass transit, she said.

Bangkok’s new sky park can be a model for swathes of unused land under the city’s expressways, said landscape architect Kotchakorn Voraakhom, who was involved in the project.

Parks and rooftop gardens can reduce air pollution and harmful emissions, and also limit flooding, said Kotchakorn, who has designed a rooftop farm and park that can retain water.

Read more>>> HERE

Quiz: How Bike-Friendly is Your City?

From Mexico City to Jakarta, cities have moved to create more space on their streets for cyclists, and make more bikes available. Many cities have closed off lanes for vehicles and created temporary, or permanent, cycle lanes on popular routes. ITDP encourages cities and cycling activist to take advantage of this moment to improve the transport options on the streets, for this crisis, and the next one.

Do you think you know what really matters when it comes to urban cycling? How do you think your city measures up? This quiz will help you determine how “bike-friendly” your city really is, and what they could do to improve.

There are a range of beliefs all around the world of what makes a city bike-friendly. Some point to the most visible factors, such as weather and city terrain; others say it’s about a city’s commitment to creating infrastructure and regulating cars; and still others believe that cultural support of cycling is the key.

For a deeper look at these and other factors that influence cycling, check ITDP’s Grow Cycling Toolkit. 

 

Read more >>> HERE

Budapest on the move – A sustainable Urban Mobility Transformation

With cities having temporarily reorganised their city centres with pop-up biking lanes and car-free streets due to the COVID-19 crisis, many citizens have claimed the new space for walking and cycling. The measures provided many urban dwellers with their first glimpse on what urban mobility in the greener and more resilient cities of the future could look like.

A scenario Urban-LEDS city Budapest has long been working to realise by advancing its sustainable mobility plan. Reason enough to take a look at some of Budapest’s actions to square the minimum pollution – maximum mobility circle connecting its 1.7 million citizens across a 525 km² territory.

Pursuing excellence

Like for many cities, Budapest’s efforts take root in the need to reduce emissions from road transport, while at the same time expanding its public transport system – currently composed of four metro lines, five railways, 33 tramlines and 279 bus lines – to accommodate the needs of a growing population. A process of anticipating the mobility needs of generations to come, while planning, designing, constructing and interconnecting different means of (public) transport integratively and effectively in the now. A process of such complexity and impact on the daily operations and sustainability of the city, that it prompted Budapest officials to create the BKK, a specialised centre to drive the process. Brought to life as a centre of excellence for transport in 2011, the BKK addresses key aspects of urban mobility ever since.

Budapest’s efforts take root in the need to reduce emissions from road transport, while at the same time expanding its public transport system

As such the BKK was responsible for the development of a new Mobility Plan to modernise transportation system in line with the guidelines issued by the European Commission for developing Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMP) and the city’s climate resilience and adaptation plan. The BKK included more than 200 institutions in the preparation of the plan to analyse key mobility problems in the city, including a one-year public consultation process. In promoting more connections, more attractive, environmentally friendly, comfortable vehicles and technologies, better service, and more efficient governance, regulations and cooperation, the plan is to deliver on ensuring a liveable urban development with a safe, reliable and dynamic transportation system. For this purpose, the SUMP has been integrated into the Budapest 2030 Development plan and echoes the targets of Hungary’s National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) requiring the country to reduce emissions by 40% (to 1990 levels) until 2030.

The BKK included more than 200 institutions in the preparation of the plan to analyse key mobility problems in the city, including a one-year public consultation process.

According to Eurobarometer and the European Cyclist Federation, around 22% of the population opt for cycling frequently to get to work. Only the Dutch and Danes are cycling more on a regular basis in Europe. Budapest is embracing and promoting this potential further via campaigns like “I bike Budapest” and its longstanding participation in European wide initiatives such as European Mobility Week. The city’s 200 km of bike routes are making it one of the most bike-friendly cities in Europe, tying in well with its emission reduction targets.

Read more >>> HERE

Living the affordable energy transition dream: How Aalborg is advancing to become fossil fuel free by 2050

Aiming to become 100% fossil fuel free by 2050, Aalborg’s ~220,000 citizens are no strangers to a set of ambitious initiatives. Below, we will explore some of the key aspects that are enabling Denmark’s third largest municipality to transition towards a carbon free future!

The Danish Example – (District) energy efficiency first

a mix of renewable heat and cold sources, including local biomass, wind, solar, heat pumps, waste and geothermal heat, as well as an envisaged total of 40-50% in energy savings is foreseen to bring down emissions from the network in the future. Aalborg network companies are thus required to increase energy savings by approximately 2% in supply annually. While the costs of the conversion are expected to stay in line with those of the current system, additional investments are foreseen to go into energy conservation and increasing efficiency in coming years.

Aalborg network companies are thus required to increase energy savings by approximately 2% in supply annually.

All on board for the green transition

For a fossil free Aalborg 2050, the municipality approaches and promotes its energy transition as an integral part of a wider Sustainability Strategy. Already back in 1994 the city approved the Aalborg Charter during the first Sustainable Cities and Towns conference, as its political framework for sustainable development. By that Aalborg not only prepared the ground for a variety of European movements, such as the Aalborg Commitments and the Sustainable Cities Platform, but also set a trend for its local transition. The current strategy was formulated in close consultation with citizens, civil society, educational institutions, business and industry, with the aim to make sustainability an accepted principle in private, professional and public life of Aalborg’s citizens.

The central point for Aalborg’s cooperation with business and citizens is the Centre for Green Transition created in 2013. The center is an umbrella organisation for sustainability projects and partnerships, supporting initiatives such as a Green Agents program and a Green Shops scheme to embed sustainability in daily life.

Read more >>> HERE

The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on clean energy progress

The Covid-19 pandemic is having a major impact on energy systems around the world, curbing investments and threatening to slow the expansion of key clean energy technologies. Looking at all the data so far on how the Covid-19 crisis is impacting clean energy transitions, 10 key themes emerge – and this article examines each of them.

 

CO2 emissions: Short-term shock does not guarantee sustained decline

The global pandemic has imposed unprecedented constraints on social and economic activity – particularly on mobility – with severe impacts on energy use. Global energy demand is expected to contract by 6% in 2020, the largest drop in more than 70 years. Global CO2 emissions are expected to decline 8% in 2020, falling to their lowest level since 2010. This drop in emissions is no cause for celebration, since it is the result of a global health crisis, surging unemployment and tremendous economic hardship. Even the flattening of CO2 emissions during the robust economic growth of 2019 was far from the annual 6% reduction required in the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS), which is fully aligned with climate goals of the Paris Agreement.

 

Furthermore, after past economic downturns, emissions recovered rapidly as economies regained their footing. While the current crisis may have accelerated some structural changes – such as the decline of coal in Europe – the temporary drop in energy use resulting from mass restrictions on movement is far from sufficient. Smart and ambitious government policies will be needed to bring about the kind of sustained structural adjustments needed across a full range of sectors to achieve long-term climate goals.

 

Renewables have been resilient so far, but government support remains key

Renewable power sources have so far demonstrated resilience in the face of the Covid-19 crisis. The share of renewables in global electricity supply reached nearly 28% in the first quarter of 2020, up from 26% during the same period in 2019. 

Despite this resilience, renewables’ growth is expected to slow down in 2020. The world is set to add only 167 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power capacity this year – 13% less than in 2019. This decline reflects delays in construction due to supply chain disruptions, lockdown measures and social distancing guidelines, as well as emerging financing challenges. The majority of delayed utility-scale projects are expected to come online in 2021, but installations of rooftop solar PV for businesses and households may continue to be depressed in the medium term without strong government support.

The share of renewables in global electricity supply reached nearly 28% in the first quarter of 2020, up from 26% during the same period in 2019.

Beyond electricity, renewables have been less resilient. Transport biofuel production is expected to contract by 13% in 2020 – its first drop in two decades. Renewable heat consumption is also likely to decline in 2020, mainly due to lower activity in the industrial sector. Adding to these difficulties, low oil and gas prices are making biofuels and renewable heat technologies less cost-competitive.

Governments have an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate clean energy transitions by making investment in renewables a key part of stimulus packages to reinvigorate their economies. Investing in renewables, whose costs continue to fall rapidly, can stimulate job creation and economic development while reducing emissions and fostering further innovation.

 

Read more>>>>>HERE

How to Use Socially Innovative Policy-Making for an Inclusive Energy Transition

Social innovation should accompany environmental policymaking. Policies will have little effect without the acceptance and understanding of the people directly affected by the changes. Much of the climate change discourse centers on wide-scale economic, social and cultural change – this rhetoric gives people little agency, leaving many feeling alienated.

Policies will have little effect without the acceptance and understanding of the people directly affected by the changes.

Social innovation in the context of the energy transition is a process of change in social interaction and the sharing of knowledge leading to – or based on – new environmentally sustainable ways of producing, managing, and consuming energy that address social challenges. There are many pioneering European cities applying socially innovative approached in local energy transitions with replicable approaches. Based on studies in such cities – the following nine practical recommendations are a red thread for any policy maker to follow when planning and implementing novel energy policies.

Recommendation 1: Build on existing engagement. Pro-environmental dispositions have been found to be important drivers of social innovations in the energy sector. This is the case irrespective of the actor involved, whether a citizen or a NGO. Connecting with individuals or groups with existing environmental engagement or taking a step further and develop environmental engagement in stakeholders is good way to build support.

Recommendation 2:  Welcome resistance. People often demonstrate resistance when faced with ambiguity, such as the financial ramifications of a new energy policy. It is important to acknowledge these concerns as valid and to be transparent about associated risks and costs. Identifying hesitant groups and involving them in trial periods and planning, can help alleviate concerns.

Recommendation 3: Be trustworthy. Trust in the abilities and good intentions of stakeholders and decision-makers is a key factor for the acceptability of new policies. A recent study[1] in France indicated very few people deny climate change (irrespective of their social status), but they do not trust institutions to be able to fix it. Participatory processes are a good way to strengthen trust, especially with disadvantaged groups suffering from energy poverty. Giving people opportunities to express concerns and fostering wider dialogue in order to avoid polarisation of opposing groups is important.

Read more >>> HERE

INTERVIEW: Can Micromobility-Sharing Work in Malaysia?

An Interview with Johan Sammy, Head of Expansion and Partnership, Anywheel

by Jade Chan, The Star Malaysia

Jade: Can you provide the details about the e-mobility project for Bukit Damansara (purpose, implementation, follow-ups)?

Bukit Damansara is a very interesting project for us and will be the first in Kuala Lumpur to provide sustainable urban mobility for first/last mile connectivity and short distance travel to the community. What we aim to achieve here is to create awareness and getting the local community to adopt the new mode of travel instead of driving. Our priority is to connect residents & employees (business district) to the MRT stations, and residents & employees to retail outlets or places of interest in Bukit Damansara. The challenge here will be the road condition, gradients and traffic, so we are still in the midst of identifying the operating zones, connectivity and routes that are safe for users to travel using our scooters. We expect to complete the study by end January and we will present the proposal to DBKL for their consent to operate. We are looking at end-Feb or March to kick start this trial.

 

Jade: I understand Anywheel had several e-scooters available for use at the Asia-Pacific Urban Forum in Penang. How was the reception to Anywheel e-scooters in Penang?

The response was overwhelming with strong support from MBPP’s Mayor and Urbanice Malaysia. We had 70 scooters within the vicinity of SPICE Convention Centre and we had more than 1000 users downloading the app and testing the scooters over the course of the event.

Read more >>>HERE

COVID-19 Recovery: A Game-changer for Sustainable Urban Mobility

Opportunities for non-motorized transport infrastructure

How can we ensure that the COVID-19 recovery phase is a game-changer for planning, implementing, and financing more sustainable urban transport systems instead of losing the momentum and returning to old habits of using individual, fossil fuel-based transport solutions that pollute, contest, and burden our urban spaces?

 

This dichotomy of opportunities and challenges requires customized strategies for realizing sustainable urban mobility systems through:

(a) Sustaining and capitalizing on the new mobility patterns of people and the emergence of dynamic policy-making to expand non-motorized transport infrastructure.

(b) Reinforcing and adjusting investments in public transport and sustainable mobility infrastructure that already commenced prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Financing solutions and supportive policy frameworks are needed for both strategies, not least because they will promote a sustainable recovery of our economies.

 

Opportunities and how we can leverage them?

To reduce the use of public transport given the infection risks, many city authorities announced and implemented ad hoc measures for repurposing road space and ensuring the safety of people walking and cycling in cities. Examples of this were observed in BrusselsMilanBerlinParisBogotá, Auckland, and many other cities around the world. It is important to build on this momentum of behavioural change and political agility to support the active mobility of people beyond the lockdown phase.

Read more >>> HERE

Indonesia Approves a New Non-Motorized Transport Strategy

The Ministry of Public Works and Housing in Indonesia has partnered with the Institute for Transport and Development Policy (ITDP) Indonesia and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Share the Road initiative to develop a “National Vision for Non-Motorized Transport” document as a practical guide for city governments in planning and prioritizing the needs  of pedestrians and cyclists. The strategy aims to ‘create a safe, comfortable, inclusive, and comprehensive walking and cycling space which supports public transport usage.’

The strategy was developed following extensive consultations including stakeholder meetings with the Ministry of Public Works and Housing, business owners and citizens through capacity building workshops.

Read more >>> HERE