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Those who think that it is impossible are requested not to disturb those who are trying

By Blandine Pidoux on 6 June 2017

Despite the rather gloomy international context created by the decision of the President of the United States to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, cities continue to set an example through their persistence and ambition to implement, here and now, the energy transition in their territories. Many press articles and specialised websites have recently paid tribute to their efforts.

Focus

In Paris, the City Council’s first smart power grid has been inaugurated in the Clichy-Batignolles eco-neighbourhood as part of the EU-funded CoRDEES project. The objective is to set up and test the first large-scale smart power grid as a major instrument of the local climate-air-energy plan and ultimately to use it as a model to inspire cities around the world. The CoRDEES project won the ERDF’s “Urban innovative actions / Energy transition” call for projects and received 4.3 million euros from the European Union in co-funding for its implementation.

Paris was also given pride of place in the Le Monde issue of 28th April with a paper on the first selection of the “FAIRE” urban incubator. Hailed as the new accelerator of innovative urban and architectural projects, FAIRE revealed its first 25 prizewinners on Thursday 27th April. (See the article in French in Le Monde)

In Finland, the City of Helsinki aims to combine ecology, attractiveness and quality of life by seeking energy-efficient ways of prolonging the restaurant terrace season. The city launched a call for projects on this subject; the call has just closed and resulted in a wealth of innovative ideas being collected, including many solutions that could be replicated in Europe and in the rest of the world!

Let’s continue our tour of the Baltic Sea region with the cities of Norrköping, Tallinn, Turku and Riga which have come up with and tested new integrated planning and partnership models for brownfield regeneration. The best practices developed by the "Baltic Urban Lab" (an EU co-funded cross-border cooperation project) will be made available to all the cities in the region.

In Southern Europe, the cities of Zagreb, Bucharest and Barcelona are working to improve urban mobility. An article in the Eltis reveals that Zagreb has just presented a new traffic management plan including both short and long-term measures concentrating on smart mobility service solutions. Both Bucharest and Barcelona are focussing on bikes and have unveiled ambitious cycle lane development plans, with Barcelona planning to create 62 km of new lanes!

So, despite the shock wave generated by Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the cities are not going to change their course because they are well aware of the urgency and necessity to take action for the climate They know they have the keys to a better world based on the energy and environmental transition of their territories, increased cooperation between all local players and active support for the wealth of local community and democratic projects burgeoning across Europe and around the world. Of course, Energy Cities will continue to unfailingly support all stakeholders in their projects – together and with them, at all levels of governance - and to help develop or reinforce the best social, economic and legal frameworks to support them, at both national and European levels.

European cities at the Energy Cities’ annual conference in Stuttgart, April 2017 (© photo: Max Kovalenko)

©photo: Max Kovalenko - shutterstock

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