Interview with Chiara Appendino, Mayor of Torino, Italy.
What are Torino’s key actions and results in accelerating a just climate transition?
Turin has made great strides in the past 25 years towards a more sustainable and resilient city. Turin began this journey during an economic, social and environmental crisis… The scale of the transformation over the past 25 years has been overwhelming, especially considering the starting point!
We went from 10 million square meters of abandoned industrial lands to almost doubling green open space, from a transportation system built largely around private cars to a public transit system on which over 50% of passengers ride fully electric vehicles, from inefficient and polluting heating systems to one of the largest district-heating networks in Europe, from a historic building stock to an innovative energy-efficiency code, from public spaces used as parking lots to nearly half a million square meters of pedestrian areas and over 200km of dedicated cycling lanes.
In all these areas, Turin has made enormous strides not only achieving in a short period of time but doing so at a time of crisis, innovating at every turn and leveraging the transformation to create the conditions for new growth and to improve the quality of life of the entire community. The result has been a dramatic cut in CO2 emissions of nearly 35% on 1991 levels, 44% if counting industry.
One of your projects focuses on climate change adaptation in SMEs. What are the main challenges you faced in working with SMEs and how did you overcome them?
The first challenges we faced when working with SMEs are similar to those we face working with communities and individuals, and revolve around awareness of the risks involved as well as the ability to make behavioural changes today to mitigate future risks.
With regards to awareness, it’s normal to perceive such risks as extreme climate events to seem remote, and hard to quantify, perhaps likelier to happen elsewhere… But the reality is that climate change is like a slowly moving natural disaster that can generate extreme consequences unexpectedly and suddenly. Therefore, taking action today is key to slowing down or reversing the trend, but so is acknowledging that the climate has already changed and that vulnerability has already increased. Investing in adaptation measures and contingency planning today allows for greater preparedness and reduces vulnerability in the long run. To act now, one has to know that the problem exists and is very real.
How do you see Turin in 2050?
Turin in 2050 will be based on four key principals:
1. Public participation - A city of active citizens and neighborhoods
2. Dynamism - A city rich in culture, innovation, opportunities and talents
3. Livability - An accessible, circular, healthy and green City
4. Just - A city of rights