At a climate change conference at the Vatican, California Governor Jerry Brown expressed his support for Pope Francis' recent encyclical, Laudato Si, which strongly described the Pope's belief that climate change is exacerbating the global poverty problem. Calling on both top-down, particularly from the United Nations as the Paris Summit approaches, and local leadership, Pope Francis' message was met with support from other political leaders as well. Representatives from Houston, New York, New Orleans and San Francisco echoed the importance of local action to address climate change. Brown and other local leaders signed a declaration stating that “human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its effective control is a moral imperative for humanity.”
This week, we will be highlighting national networks which contribute to furthering climate action in Europe.
Healthy Cities of the Czech Republic (HCCZ) is the only association of Czech municipalities that stipulates in its statutes that it will work towards sustainable development. Its mission is to conenct municipalities and professional organizations in the Czech Republic to cooperate on health, quality of life and sustainability. With its 119 members, it represents some 57% if the national population.
Kyotoclub is an Italian NGO formed by business companies, associations, local authorities and governments engaged in reaching the greenhouse gases reduction targets set by the Kyoto Protocol. It promotes awareness-raising initiatives, information and training fto foster energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable mobility. Kyoto Club puts forward energy-related policy proposals for public decision-makers.
RENER Living Lab - Portuguese Smart Cities Network is made up of 43 municipalities which represent 50% of the population. It aims to act as a living lab for the experimentation and testing of smart urban solutions in real-life context.
Litoměřice's approach to the local energy transition is twofold, consisting of incentives for small-scale renewable energy applications on the one hand and a large investment in geothermal heat and energy production on the other.
Coal-fired water boilers had been phased out and replaced with gas-fired boilers in the 1990s. When gas prices rose, people were inclined to use coal again which would bring back smog. Thus, in the year 2000, the municipal government introduced a subsidy to apartment or hose owners willing to replace coal boilers with solar water heaters who could combine it with state grants. The council has suppoted the development of small hydro power plants (8.7 MW) and has installed solar thermal as well as photovoltaic systems on public buildings (1,216 MW). At the larger scale, Litoměřice's town council has decided to exploit geothermal energy. Based on an in-depth territorial analysis, preparations for an ambitious geothermal heat and electricity production plant with an output up to 40 MWt and 5 MWe were launched in 2008.
As the geothermal power plant is not finished due to financial and other constraints, Litoměřice continues to rely on coal-fired plants for most of its energy needs and the goal of 100% renewable energy is still far away. However, the town's gradual appraoch to promote clean energy has yielded several positive impacts. Litoměřice's SWH subsidy programme has earned the city nationwide attention. Litoměřice won several awards in the Czech Solar league at the European RES Champions League (2010). In 2014, around 5% of households had installed SWHs (1750 m2 in total).
Inspired by local support programs in neighboring Germany, Litoměřice's approach is now inspiring other cities. Together with three other Czech cities, Litoměřice set up a municipal energy manager association in November 2014.