Germany's cities are progressing in the right direction for a post-carbon transition. Hamburg, the winner of the 2011 European Green Capital Award, is a leading example. Hamburg received this award due to its policy commitment towards its “green vision.” City officials in collaboration with key stakeholders have committed to action plans such as the Covenant of Mayors, setting ambitious targets of 40% by 2020, 50% by 2050, well beyond national targets. Local citizens are also modifying their behaviors by abandoning their cars for alternate transportation modes and adopting new technologies for their homes such as PV solar panels to promote more sustainable city development.
Another leading example is the city of Freiburg. This city takes a very holistic approach to post-carbon transition, particularly by conducting civic forums to invoke key stakeholders in generating plausible ideas. Freiburg has set ambitious goals at the city level to reduce its emissions by 100% by 2050. Additionally, the city has a vast network of environmental experts ranging from environmental scientists, universities specializing in various fields of environmental studies and environmental think-tanks who can provide the town and people with knowledge on climate and pioneering pilot projects such as The Green City Tower. Playing on its strength of having more sunny days than any other German city, Freiburg has retrofitted houses and municipal buildings with PV solar panels to increase renewable energy use. A key aspect of Freiburg's success is its highly developed communication network which engages citizens and local officials alike in the transition process.
Today, a kick off meeting in Brussels launched the CIVIS project. This project is led by the University of Trento in collaboration with the Enel Foundation and is co-funded by the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme. CIVIS is a three-year long project focused on the development of an integrated ICT platform and decision support system (DSS) to reduce CO2 and increase energy savings through close collaboration between prosumers and other energy stakeholders. The project aims to acheive three primary objectives: enabling a more efficient, sustainable and CO2-aware energy system in cities, examining energy related social innovation impacts and developing new ICT enabled business models. The project will run until the end of September 2016.
Climate change is inevitable and there is little doubt that green house gases from human activities are causing temperatures around the world to rise causing dangerous irreversible effects on humans and the natural environment we live in. Many cities around the world are taking steps in the right direction to not only reduce their emissions levels but transition into carbon-neutral societies all together. However, what has been missing is a global, transparent tool that allows us to see how our actions are affecting the climate.
On October 6th, Climate-KIC launched a web-based CO2 meter, a transparent instrument which informs any interested party of the current atmospheric pressure. This can serve as an important tool for stakeholders around the world interested in climate change reduction and mitigation, particularly as demographic and economic changes threaten to magnify the consequences of climate change. Data for this meter comes from Europe’s top research station, Mace Head, located off the coast of Ireland. By allowing people and nations to view current climate data in an easy-to-understand way, perhaps it will encourage efforts towards a post-carbon society.