The municipality of Litoměřice recently committed to the Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy. What is the motivation behind this decision?
The city of Litoměřice has been devoting activities to sustainable energy and renewable resources for many years now. We regularly cooperate with cities and other stakeholders in the framework of international projects in the field of transport, energy savings and renewable energy sources. We get inspiration from the activities of advanced European cities in the field of sustainable energy thanks to our membership in the Energy Cities network. We developed a City Energy Plan in 2014 with the objective of reducing energy consumption by 20%.
Our commitment to the Covenant of Mayors was the next logical step. We took it in order to devote more of our activities to energy, transportation and mitigation of the impacts of climate change, not only within the municipality’s property, but also considering the city as a whole. One of our priorities is to assure provision of renewable and affordable energy for the citizens. This is why we are developing a flagship geothermal project, and simultaneously training municipal organisations and citizens on how to make efficient use of energy, in order to need as little energy as possible in the future.
Energy is also important to us as a significant element of adaptation to the impacts of climate change, which are already affecting Litoměřice, such as the frequent flooding of the Elbe River.
We are in 2050. What does your city look like?
We addressed this issue in the framework of the international POCACITO project (POst CArbon CIties of TOmorrow), when we held a number of workshops and round tables with citizens, companies, non-profit organisations, architects and other stakeholders in Litoměřice, in cooperation with the Environment Centre, and the Charles University of Prague.
According to our shared concept, in 2050 zero-emission vehicles will be in use for personal transportation, 50% of households will not own a vehicle and will use public transport or non-motorised transport, i.e. travel by foot or bicycle. Self-sufficiency will be achieved in the field of energy, with a geothermal source producing renewable energy. 80% of the housing stock will meet passive or nearly zero-energy standards and most buildings in the municipality will be equipped with photovoltaic panels with an accumulation system. This is also related to our environmental goals, where sub-limit values will be achieved regarding all main pollutants, or we will achieve the self-sufficiency of city districts in terms of provision of services.
This energy transition will have environmental and social impacts. Healthy and high-quality housing will be accessible to all and traveling on the streets will be safe, as driving a car around the city will be inefficient and “obsolete”. People will meet more frequently, enjoy common spaces and the municipality will be better prepared to face challenges.
On 19 October 2006, the Covenant of Mayors was mentioned for the very first time in a Communication from the European Commission. It will be 10 years this year. How do you see the next ten years for the initiative?
In general, I believe that the Covenant of Mayors will have more signatories in countries in our region of Europe, i.e. Central and Eastern European countries. There will also be more signatory cities in Asia or Africa. Regions are more likely to commit to the Covenant of Mayors because sustainable energy and transport, and the related development of infrastructure, are becoming regional and national issues in countries where this initiative is already strongly anchored.
Every European city has a neighbour city or region with major projects in the field of energy and transport and can consequently see the importance and benefits of the long-term approach and vision offered by the Covenant of Mayors.
I am personally convinced that every city which takes sustainable energy measures against climate change (at least in Europe), should be a part of this movement. To me, it is a condition to achieve the ambitious plan agreed on at the Paris Climate Change Conference in 2015. I also hope and believe that our city will be at least halfway to achieving its goals, which will be defined in the Sustainable Energy & Climate Action Plan.