The city of Stockholm committed to the Covenant of Mayors back in 2008. What progress has been made since then?
The City of Stockholm has made continued progress during this period. The emissions per capita have decreased from approximately 3.5 tonnes in 2008 to less than 3.0 tonnes per capita in 2013.
We have been working in several areas. As regards heating, renewable sources for district heating have progressively replaced fossil oil and coal. The city has even surpassed the expected energy savings, reducing energy use in its own buildings and housing companies by 11 % between 2012 and 2015. Emissions in the transport sector have been reduced thanks to a greater use of biofuels: the latter now account for almost 20% of all fuels used for cars, lorries and buses.
The city has set itself the target to be fossil-fuel free by 2040. A strategy specifying how to achieve this goal and to reduce emissions down to 2.3 tonnes per capita by 2020 is currently being developed.
Stockholm is also working on the issue of adaptation to climate change. How do you see the combination of mitigation and adaptation actions?
It is a fact that Stockholm is growing at a very rapid pace and it´s also true that we aim at growing in a “climate-smart” way. Being “climate-smart” translates into 140,000 new energy-efficient homes, close to the public transport network planned with a changing climate in mind. The Stockholm Royal Seaport area, for example, is being built according to high climate performance standards.
To enable “climate-smart” solutions, SEK1 billion (ca. €110 M) have been allocated to climate investments within the city budget - both for mitigation and adaptation – for the 2015-2018 period.
A “climate-smart” city calls for action from many players within the city administration as well as other players such as private companies and the national government. A new climate unit was established at the executive office to coordinate and speed up the process of making Stockholm a resilient and fossil-fuel free city by 2040.
What are the benefits and challenges of this integrated approach?
All city operations and actions should aim at fulfilling the vision of a city for everyone. Being a “climate smart” city is a prerequisite to a democratically, economically and a socially sustainable Stockholm. A “climate smart” city will save money thanks to energy savings, waste-to-energy systems including biogas production. Less traffic and clean fuels will improve air quality and make the city even more attractive. A resilient, adapted to climate change Stockholm can also improve quality of life when transforming hard surface areas vulnerable to flooding by the use of eco-systems services that enables water to take safer ways. In addition to risk management and adaptation, such a measure can improve quality of life by making areas safer and more enjoyable and create win-win solutions for a city for everyone.
The great challenge of this approach is to engage and coordinate all relevant stakeholders towards this common vision.
The Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy puts an emphasis on integrated action: signatories now commit to adopt an integrated approach to climate change mitigation and adaption. Is Stockholm considering committing to the new Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy?
The City of Stockholm signed the Covenant of Mayors in 2008, and we also joined the Mayors Adapt initiative in 2014. Those are great initiatives and the decision to join was an easy one for both of them. Stockholm is a good example of consensus-based policy-making. A sustainable environment has been one of our top priorities over the last 20 years and as mentioned before we have set the ambitious goal to become a fossil-fuel free city by 2040.
Mitigation and adaptation are obviously interlinked as they represent the causes and effects of climate change. It makes a lot of sense to merge these two initiatives and Stockholm intends to sign up to the new 2030 Covenant of Mayors objectives, hopefully in 2016.
© photo Mattias Vepsä CC BY-NC-ND 2.0