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Energy Cities’ members delivering on their Covenant of Mayors CO2 reduction commitments

By David Donnerer on 27 January 2016

In the aftermath of the UN climate conference in Paris, we are proud to show that Energy Cities’ members are at the forefront of climate action. An evaluation of their performance in the Covenant of Mayors at the end of last year proved that they have managed to exceed EU ambitions in terms of CO2-emission reduction and energy efficiency, ahead of the 2020 benchmark.

The Covenant of Mayors is a unique bottom-up initiative, in which local and regional authorities voluntarily commit to going beyond the EU’s 2020 CO2 emission reduction target of 20%. This commitment was recently extended to a minimum 40% CO2 reduction by 2030. In addition to this, Covenant signatories now have to adopt an integrated approach to climate mitigation and adaptation and reinforce their efforts to provide sustainable and affordable energy for all.

Covenant signatories regularly report on the progress made in implementing their Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs) . Energy Cities conducted a study on the monitoring reports of 13 of its members which have signed the Covenant of Mayors: Zagreb, Helsinki, Freiburg-im-Breisgau, München, Salerno, Kaunas, Águeda, Barreiro, Moura, Vila Nova de Gaia, Bistrița, Málaga and Växjö. These cities monitored their progress in climate action over an average period of 13 years, from 2000 to 2013.

Between 2000 and 2013, these 13 cities committed to the Covenant of Mayors have managed to reduce their absolute CO2 emissions by 43%.

Collectively, they have already exceeded the Covenant of Mayors 2020 target of reducing CO2 emissions by 28%. In the same time, their population had increased by 5%, from 4,46 million to 4,69 million people. Moreover, these Energy Cities’ members have greatly improved their energy efficiency, by decreasing their energy consumption by more than 36% over the same period. Thereby they are not only going beyond the EU’s 2020 energy efficiency target (reducing energy consumption by 20%), but also going beyond its 2030 target of 27%.

At the same time, Energy Cities’ members are blowing full steam ahead in driving the energy transition on their territories. As our analysis show, the 13 members evaluated more than tripled their local renewable energy production between 2000 and 2013. While in 2000 they produced 1,36 Terawatt per hour (TWh) of green energy locally, in 2013 it was more than 4,38 TWh. In the analysis, local renewable energy production includes electricity (e.g. photovoltaic, hydroelectric, wind), heat (e.g. biomass), combined heat and power, geothermal, solar thermal and other biomass.

The share of local energy production - which includes a mix of renewable and non-renewable energy sources - that can provide for the energy consumption needs of citizens almost doubled between 2000 and 2013. In 2000, the 13 cities could cover 24% of their energy needs with locally-produced energy. In 2013, more than 44% of the energy used was provided for by local energy production. And in their local production energy mix, the share of renewables increased almost threefold in this period. The pledges for energy independence and boosting clean energy are being translated into effective actions on the ground!

Until 2013, these 13 Energy Cities’ members cumulatively completed 99 climate actions in the Covenant of Mayors, from retrofitting buildings and scaling up photovoltaic power plants to developing electromobility in public or private transport. Many more actions will still be ongoing until 2020 and beyond. Energy Cities’ members have merely begun delivering on their Covenant of Mayors commitments but these first results are already promising. The local energy transition is well on its way!

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