Covenant of Mayors
  Covenant Newsletter December 2014  
Portuguese city first to report CO2 reduction progress to European Commission
Vila Nova de Gaia was the first among over 6, 000 Covenant of Mayors signatory cities to use the EU-monitored system to report progress on CO2 reductions. Revolve Media reports on the story. >>[Read original article here->]

Three years ago the Portuguese city of Vila Nova de Gaia committed to a 25% reduction of its CO2 emissions by 2020. As part of the Covenant of Mayors, this city of 300,000 people adopted a Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) outlining the measures that would support this objective. To date, the city has reduced its emissions by 16% from 2005 levels.

“Our main results came from actions related with a rising share of renewable energy production from landfill biogas and solar systems, reduction of CO2 and energy intensity on the transport sector by the expansion of metro lines and improving energy efficiency in buildings,” says Eduardo Vítor Rodrigues, Mayor of Vila Nova de Gaia.

Landfill biogas production is now responsible for more than 5% of total electric energy demand in the municipality while the reductions in the transport sector were achieved due to actions focusing on renovating Vila Nova de Gaia’s metro fleet and the expansion of the city’s subway lines.

Another key component of Vila Nova de Gaia’s success was its ‘Vila d’Este’ social housing scheme. Some 17,000 inhabitants are to benefit from the refurbishment program that project developers have hailed as ‘the largest of its kind in Europe’. Co-financed by European and national funds, it will lead to the improvement of the energy performance of buildings through measures such as thermal insulation, glazing improvement and the introduction of shading.

“Buildings’ energy rehabilitation seems a promising sector to promote economic activity, as well as reducing CO2 emissions associated with energy use, while at the same time improving living standards and property value for owners and tenants,” says Mayor Rodrigues.

As with every city making the transition to a low-carbon path, it can be difficult to balance sustainable development while simultaneously attracting private business to join the energy transition.

“The financial crisis has worsened financing conditions for municipalities,” says Mayor Rodrigues. “On measures promoted by the private sector, where the municipality is more of a facilitator, challenges come from transforming these approaches into something that is economically feasible for the market.”

To increase interest in Vila Nova de Gaia’s sustainability plans, the municipality has incorporated tax incentives for eco-friendly urban operations and new policies related to building renovations.

“In the last two years, Vila Nova de Gaia has been developing a real-time energy monitoring platform with the collaboration of the regional energy management agency, and this activity has already proven to be very successful and fully sustainable in economic terms,” says Mayor Rodrigues.

In a time where analytical data is transforming markets across all sectors, measuring a household or office’s energy supply has become an effective approach to increase energy efficiency while lowering costs for both public and private individuals. Carbon reduction in any city will be down to similar initiatives that support both its economy and climate action.

Vila Nova de Gaia’s 16% carbon reduction demonstrates the success of undertaking such sustainable actions and with 2015 just around the corner, this Portuguese city will surely be an example for the year to come.

Writer: Steve Gillman, Revolve Editorial Staff

    >> Covenant Monthly Newsletter December 2014 <<
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  The sole responsibility for the content of this newsletter lies with the Covenant of Mayors Office. It does not necessary reflect the opinion of the European Union. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein. The Covenant of Mayors was set up with financial support of the European Commission and consists of five associations of European local authorities: Energy Cities, Climate Alliance, Eurocities, CEMR, Fedarene, and ICLEI Europe.

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