Sustainable Cities Spotlight: Germany

23 October 2014 - 4:00pm
Ecologic Institute

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.