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ICLEI members provide examples of good practice in procuring low-carbon transport

7 January 2016

ICLEI members provide examples of good practice in procuring low-carbon transport

The EU-funded TRANSFORM project has gathered examples of good practice in procuring low-carbon public transport in a series of publications. The project focussed on the experiences of ICLEI members Barcelona (Spain), Birmingham (United Kingdom) and Rotterdam (The Netherlands).

A final report explains the journey of the three cities as they incorporated innovative practices when procuring transport and mobility products and services. Two policy briefs have also been produced, discussing the policy issues around procurement in transport as well as the implications from evidence gathered through the pilots in the participating cities and stakeholder workshops.

Finally, the project has developed joint statements of demand, inviting European cities seeking clean urban transport solutions to join the project in communicating collective messages to the market.

For more information, visit

ICLEI invites members to sign the Paris Pledge for Action

22 December 2015

ICLEI invites members to sign the Paris Pledge for Action

On 12 December 2015, nations at the United Nations Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21) adopted a landmark “Paris Agreement” that strives to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, with the intent to pursue a 1.5-degree target. Through the agreement, local and subnational governments are recognised as essential actors in fast tracking transformative action in the urban world.

The Paris Agreement fulfills the majority of expectations contained in the ICLEI Declaration to Ministers at COP21, adopted unanimously at the joint meeting of ICLEI Council and Global Executive Committee at Paris City Hall on 6 December 2015. Following the adoption, ICLEI received an invitation on behalf of the UNFCCC Secretariat and the COP21 Presidency to join a global awareness and publicity campaign that announces support for the Paris Agreement, titled the Paris Pledge for Action.

ICLEI endorses the Paris Pledge for Action and is encouraging its members around the globe to sign the Pledge. “ICLEI welcomes the Paris Agreement as it opens the door for all Non-Party stakeholders through the engagement of all levels of governments and non-state actors, provides a basis for transformation and paves the way for greater ambitions. This is why ICLEI also endorses the Paris Pledge for Action. The success of this regime relies heavily on the rapid mobilisation of each and every individual and organisation for ambitious climate action,” said Gino Van Begin, ICLEI Secretary General.

For more information, visit

At COP21 we set ambitious targets: now let’s act on them

21 December 2015

At COP21 we set ambitious targets: now let’s act on them

By Mark Hidson, Deputy Regional Director of ICLEI Europe and Global Director of ICLEI’s Sustainable Procurement Centre.

It’s hard to describe the unique combination of hope and doubt that hangs around the UNFCCC negotiations. The stakes are big, the details and discussions complex, and the external pressure from all sides is intense. I spent nearly a week at the COP21 in Paris this December and found my initial cynicism giving way to a tentative optimism as the 195 countries present signed up to a deal that signals a real desire to act.

What made this conference stand apart from previous summits was the attitude of those present. Earlier meetings have ended in disappointment as negotiators dug in their heels, producing last-minute agreements which lacked ambition and pleased nobody. Paris was different. Everybody arrived ready to negotiate, with a genuine recognition on all sides that something had to be done and urgently. The failure of previous COPs fed a desire to succeed here: nothing short of a global agreement could achieve the level of change needed.

The wording of the agreed text is important on three key points. Firstly, countries bound themselves to ensure any global temperature increase remains "well below" 2.0C. The fact that a further promise to "endeavour to limit" this increase even more, to 1.5C, remained in the text is a testimony to the determination of the so-called “high ambition coalition”. It was great to see the cities and local communities recognised as well. They are specifically referenced in the text, showing the importance of their role in finding and implementing low-carbon alternatives. Sustainable patterns of consumption and production were also mentioned, described in the annex to the Agreement as playing “an important role in addressing climate change”.

Of course, a good deal of work remains to be done. The Paris Agreement itself recognises this, with national targets expected to be revised every 5 years. Nonetheless, I believe that this could be a turning point which will enable us to meet head-on the challenges society faces and achieve a resource efficient, low-carbon society if national governments take implementing the agreement seriously. The text has sent a signal to the public and private sector that we need to start implementing the low-carbon solutions we already have and develop new, sustainable technologies.

The task of achieving the goals laid out by national governments will also fall to cities and towns around the world. The goods and services we procure, from renewable electricity to electric municipal waste trucks, will be vital in ensuring a sustainable future. The Global Lead City Network on Sustainable Procurement, which was launched in ICLEI’s TAP Pavilion as the negotiations began in the Blue Zone nearby, is a clear sign that cities are prepared to step up to this challenge. By the end of 2016, the Network’s ten participant cities will have made clear and concrete commitments to use sustainable public procurement to make their societies resource efficient, low carbon and socially responsible. This will send the message that cities are prepared to do their bit in ensuring that the Paris Agreement lives up to its promise.

Bristol Summits bring together business and civic leaders

16 December 2015

Bristol Summits bring together business and civic leaders

At the culmination of its year as European Green Capital, ICLEI member Bristol (UK) gathered a pioneering group of businesses at the Business Summit and innovative civic leaders at the City Leadership Summit to explore how creative civic governance and forward-thinking businesses can build healthy and happy communities.

The two summits showcased how cities and regions are at the forefront of sustainable development, and how they must play a leadership role in reducing dependence on fossil fuels and driving forward the low-carbon economy. Throughout the sessions, local authorities demonstrated that they are ideally positioned to facilitate the roll-out of policies and actions while fostering community participation and inclusiveness.

Within the Transformative Actions Program (TAP) session, co-organised by ICLEI, city leaders explained their ambitious, cross-cutting and inclusive actions, focusing on mitigation and adaptation to climate change. George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, presented Bristol’s TAP proposal to retrofit around 50,000 homes to make them more energy efficient. The potential of innovation to bring social and economic change was also emphasised. A series of interviews capture the outlook of local authorities participating at the Bristol Summits.

For more information, visit the Bristol Summits website.

Event at COP21 to explore the future of decentralised energy

3 December 2015

Event at COP21 to explore the future of decentralised energy

As world leaders meet during the opening week of COP21 negotiations, French President François Hollande’s opening speech called for developed countries “to shoulder their historic responsibility” and for emerging countries “to speed up their energy transition”. President Hollande further defined “the biggest challenge in Africa” as providing universal “access to electricity thanks to sustainable energy”. Community energy can provide energy security and equal access to energy across all global regions. Decentralised energy can furthermore be a crucial driving force behind low carbon development in emerging economies.

On Thursday 10 December, ICLEI, the CO-POWER project, the Committee of the Regions, and the European Economic and Social Committee will host, “Harnessing community power: how can local authorities support decentralised energy projects?” in the Cities and Regions Pavilion – TAP2015 focusing on the role of local and regional authorities in supporting local renewables and especially community-led decentralised energy projects. The event will deal with challenges and obstacles and will share success stories in the ongoing transition to renewably sourced energy at the local level.

A panel discussion with speakers including Toni Vidan, European Economic and Social Committee and Lasse Puertas Navarro Olsen, Alderman, City of Aalborg, will explore and highlight the potential benefits of community energy in relation to energy security, social equity and energy democratisation. The event will discuss how to speed up the development of renewable energy projects by creating a favourable legislative environment and policy frameworks at local, national and European level.

For more information, visit the ICLEI Europe website.

CO-POWER conference in Paris sparks dialogue on community energy after COP21

27 November 2015

CO-POWER conference in Paris sparks dialogue on community energy after COP21

As all eyes look to Paris (France) in preparation for the 2015 Paris Climate conference, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), ICLEI Europe, the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council, and the Committee of the Regions (CoR) put their heads together to create an event, in collaboration with the Community Power project, to address the practical question of how local governments and their communities should proceed to help accelerate the transition to sustainable energy. What part do community-owned renewables play in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the expected Paris Agreement?

“Community energy: accelerating sustainable energy roll-out in Europe“ will be held in the context of the COP21 addressing these key challenges and starting a dialogue on the role of civil society and community engagement following the Paris Agreement. The roll-out of sustainable energy in Europe in the run-up to 2030 will be the central theme, with a specific focus on the potential of community-led and owned RES for local and regional development. Local governments and civil society-led initiatives will share best practices from their experience with community energy and will lead a conversation on how to plan ahead to 2030.

A diverse group of experts including European, national, regional and local policy makers will participate alongside local governments, networks and associations, community energy projects, cooperatives, rural communities, NGOs and RES developers. The conference will be held in the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council and registration is open to all. Registration is available online.

For more information, download the draft agenda.

TAP Pavilion invites cities and regions at COP21 to attend

26 November 2015

TAP Pavilion invites cities and regions at COP21 to attend

As international climate change negotiations proceed at COP21, local and regional climate action will be in the spotlight at the Cities & Regions Pavilion – TAP2015. As the central point for the local level at COP21, the Cities & Regions Pavilion invites mayors, governors, municipal leaders, civil society leaders, businesses and financiers to engage in lively exchanges on accelerating local and regional climate action in advance of a binding agreement on a new international climate regime. European cities can avail of daily briefings on the progress of the negotiations within the pavilion, including analysis from ICLEI experts.

At the heart of the Pavilion are daily regional “TAP Time” sessions, where selected representatives of cities and regions will present their ambitious, inclusive and cross-cutting projects from the Transformative Actions Program (TAP). During the two weeks, projects from Europe, Latin America, North America, Africa, India, China, Southeast Asia and Oceania will be highlighted. Events will be held of particular interest to European cities, including two sessions focusing on the role of local and regional authorities in supporting community-led energy projects. The sessions will take place in the framework of the CO-POWER project and will focus on challenges and barriers, as well as success stories, in the ongoing transition to renewably sourced energy at the local level.

On UNFCCC Action Day on 5 December sustainable public procurement will be in focus at the Pavilion. ICLEI is organising the first Global Lead Cities Network Summit on sustainable public procurement, followed by a session led by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Korea Environmental Industry and Technology Institute (KEITI) on the 10-year Framework Program.

For more information, visit the TAP website.

Projects and initiatives aim to scale up district energy

23 November 2015

Projects and initiatives aim to scale up district energy

The future of energy distribution is modern district energy. Integrated systems pipe water and steam around a city to heat and cool buildings, producing electricity along the way and increasingly integrating renewable energy. District energy systems (DES) are exceptionally energy-efficient, leveraging energy that is typically lost and using diverse energy sources for multiple buildings. DES could be the key to decarbonising the built environment, transitioning to renewable energy and limiting global temperature change to below two degrees.

To transition to modern district energy, we need to know where and how thermal resources are being used. The EU-funded STRATEGO project has published the Pan-European Thermal Atlas (PETA), an interactive map with data on regional and European thermal resources and demand. Governments can use this information to implement National Cooling and Heating Plans, which are a European Commission obligation. The CELSIUS project, meanwhile, has resources until March 2017 to support cities in implementing and further developing local DES. Interested cities can join CELSIUS here.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon launched the Global Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform to scale up energy efficiency policy, action and investment and to fast-track energy efficiency internationally. The platform provides technical assistance, support and public-private sector collaboration to bring policymakers and stakeholders together to effect real change. Partners in this process, ICLEI, UNEP and WRI invite local governments to become involved in the Buildings Energy Accelerator and the Global District Energy in Cities Initiative. Involved cities can showcase their city’s leadership at the COP21 Buildings Day on 3 December 2015, where the results of this call to action will be launched with further information on the support, training and financing the platform will offer.

For more information, download the Call to Action.

City leaders debate the case for investing in the Energy Union

16 October 2015

City leaders debate the case for investing in the Energy Union

The EU’s Energy Union aims to make a single energy market in Europe a reality, ensuring a secure supply of sustainably sourced energy for all Europeans. As the transition will occur at the local level, city and regional governments are the primary actors in achieving the EU’s sustainable energy goals. Local and regional governments, however, are often stymied in their attempts to enact ambitious climate and energy policies by a lack of funding and by unclear legal rules.

A debate held in the context of the European Union’s Open Days for Regions and Cities in Brussels (Belgium) on 14 October saw local-level leaders discuss the financial ramifications of moving to a single energy market in Europe, as well as look at how local and regional governments can use sustainable energy to create projects that yield a return on investment. Participants debated how Structural and Cohesion Funds can be coupled with innovative financing models to ensure that sufficient capital is raised to implement renewable energy projects. Employment opportunities stemming from the local level implementation of the Energy Union was also hotly discussed.

Eugenio Leanza of the European Investment Bank said: “Planning for sustainability and resilience is an exercise that needs to be reviewed in consideration of the evolving situation of the economy and has to be realised by all stakeholders in a cooperative way […] The EIB is reflecting on the utilisation of new financial instruments to improve the performance of European cities, while reinforcing the resilience of their job markets.” The session was jointly organised by two EU-funded projects, MAYORS in ACTION and 50000&1 SEAPs, both committed to building a low-carbon energy future in Europe.

For more information, visit the event listing.

50000&1SEAPS launches call for participation in coaching scheme

11 August 2015

50000&1SEAPS launches call for participation in coaching scheme

Municipalities, regions, Covenant of Mayors supporters and coordinators, and public and private stakeholders are being invited to take part in a coaching scheme run by the 50000&1SEAPs project. The coaching scheme, along with a tailor-made programme on integrating Energy Management Systems (EnMS) and Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs) according the ISO 50001 energy management standard, will help municipalities achieve high-quality energy policy and planning for the long-term. Participants will be able to use tools and methodologies made available by the project, as well as receiving two days of training.

An open training session was already held during EU Sustainable Energy Week in Brussels (Belgium) on 15 June 2015, which aimed to support local and regional authorities interested in learning more on how EnMS and SEAPs can be integrated. The workshop focused on practical steps and exchange of best practice and tools by experienced actors. The presentations and materials presented at the training session can be viewed online.

The 50000&1SEAPs approach has a range of benefits, as it helps participants to develop policies for more efficient energy use, fix targets and objectives to carry out these policies, and identify corrective measures and potential improvements for SEAP planning. The project particularly encourages participation from new and Mediterranean EU Member States in the coaching scheme.

For more information on joining the coaching scheme, click here or contact

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