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SEAPs and financial opportunities of SEAPs - Ghent - November 2013

 
 

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Sustainable Solutions for Smart Cities - Ghent - 27 November 2013

On the 27th of November 2013, after one and a half days of project meetings with the STEP UP project partners from  Ghent, Glasgow, Gothenburg and Riga; a STEP UP workshop was held with a focus on Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs) and (financial) opportunities of SEAPs as the overarching theme. The workshop coincided with the  EUROCITIES 2013 event in Ghent with its official opening that same evening and continuing until the weekend. The workshop was attended by over 50 representatives from Ghent, Glasgow, Gothenburg and  Riga, companion cities and learning network members from Ghent but also from Glasgow's companion city Nüremberg.

The workshop was directly followed by the inauguration of the Flemish Smart Energy City Network for which both civil servants from the relevant city departments and Deputy Mayors from the Flemish learning network were invited.

The workshop - “SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS FOR SMART CITIES” gathered researchers and experts from the STEP UP project, politicians, representatives  from the business sector and the public sector. The presentations with introductions are available to view or download below.

1. Sustainable cities: Why & How? – Brian Veitch – Director of ARUP

Arup, is an 11,000 strong global firm of consulting engineers, designers, planners and project managers, which works with cities to plan and deliver smart, sustainable development programmes.

Brian Veitch’s presentation explores why and how sustainable cities are important, drawing on Arup’s experience of working on sustainable and smart cities projects. Arup has had a key role in the World Economic Forum’s SlimCity initiative, researching and identifying actions across themes of urban mobility, smart energy and sustainable buildings, and has been greatly involved in interfacing with cities and promoting knowledge exchange.

The presentation examines why sustainability is important for cities, establishing that CO2 reductions are no longer simply desirable but have become essential. Increasing global warming publicity and advances in understanding of the driving forces behind climate change have placed sustainability firmly on city agendas, with issues like fuel poverty becoming increasingly critical issues for societies to address. Such issues explain why action on sustainability in cities in needed but the social, economic and environmental benefits to be gained from taking steps towards low carbon futures are also emphasised.

The second half  focuses on how to achieve sustainable cities, drawing on case studies from different cities to show how tools such as heat mapping, low carbon housing developments and innovative demonstrator projects such as Hamburg’s algae biomass building, can meet urban needs sustainably. Developing city strategies that integrate different approaches to tackling challenges and project investment are also explored. An innovative sustainable transport project in Milton Keynes is shown as an example of how cities can move out of their more traditional roles and work as enablers in broader partnerships to help realise their low carbon visions for the future.

2. Financing sustainable and innovative cities – Ilze Kukute – Head of Government and Municipal Banking Unit, Swedbank AS

Swedbank is the leading bank in Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and is listed as a large cap company on the OMX Nordic Exchange, Stockholm.

The aim of Ilze's speech  "Financing innovative cities” was to examine the future perspectives and challenges in financing the needs for public infrastructure improvement. Ilze envisages a growth of the partnership role in future public infrastructure financing, combining different types of financing sources and instruments.

The main measures and targets for innovative cities are related to the reduction of heat consumption, CO2 emission reductions, reducing costs for heating, minimization of manufacturing costs, energy efficient building materials, energy efficient building, building energy efficiency, heat generation and transfer, alternative energies and new technologies. The financial sector interacts with these cities and their projects in a multitude of sectors as they are partially financing projects in manufacturing, housing maintenance, real estate, construction, urban environment projects, energy, transport, waste management, heating supply and more.

All of the measures and targets outlined above are thus relevant for the financial sector and could benefit from financial support from financial institutes. However also relevant is that it is also important to know what interests the  financial sector in this regard. Banks look at the interaction of all these sectors when investment decisions are made.  For banks it is important to ensure that  their credit portfolios are diversified and they also need to monitor the concentration of risks in these sectors (banks share these risks with the state).

The framework to operate for banks is constituted by two main factors. On the one hand state policies, legislative conditions (tax or levies for investments, centralized or decentralized ways to finance investments), and on the other hand the sectors they traditionally invest in, their experience in project financing, and their financing models.

Currently, in the aftermath of the economic crisis, Europe is still trying to recover, which is hampered by the high government debts in its countries. The economy is for the moment mainly focused on recovery. This causes the banking sector to be even more focused on equity, profit, and orientation towards good projects with low risk.  The main financing options for the banking sector are thus partnership projects, dialogues with the private sector, competence centres, syndication possibilities, and pension funds. Possible new financing schemes and models will have to be developed. However, each country or city has its own traditions, reference framework and environment for public infrastructure development. There is room for new solutions and developments in terms of implementing cities strategies. A dialogue between the financial sector and representatives from the state or municipalities is always valuable in order to find the best solutions to implement strategies.

3. Paolo Bertoldi and Giulia Melica – CoM Scientific-Technical support – JRC – EU COM

This presentation elaborates on new features in the monitoring template for the Covenant of Mayors (CoM) and opportunities for enhanced Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs). It elaborates on the role of the Joint Research Centre of teh EU Commission (JRC) in the CoM, figures on the CoM initiative based on a sample of SEAPs after 5 years of the CoM, the SEAP process with regards to monitoring and implementation, and opportunities for enhanced SEAPs.

The JRC of the European Commission provides the scientific-technical support to the development, implementation and monitoring of the CoM. In this capacity the JRC published a report in June 2013 (http://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/com/JRC-CoM_in_Figure-WEB_version.pdf) with general figures on the initiative based on a sample of 1287 submitted SEAPs.

Many cities and other local authorities have signed the CoM and have developed SEAPS or are developing them at the moment. The next step in the CoM process is the implementation of policies and measures and the monitoring and reporting of this process. An implementation report is to be submitted every second year. Practically, this is translated into a qualitative action report on the status of the actions in year 2, followed by a quantitative implementation report which includes an inventory and impacts of the actions in year 4. Two years later this is followed by another action report which is followed again by an implementation report, and so on. The on-line monitoring template contains new fields on staff capacity and budget spent, barriers faced, benchmarks of excellence and it automatically generates a synthesis report.

The presentation outlines expected outcomes of the CoM process and opportunities in economic growth, high quality jobs and Smart Cities and is relevant for those who wish to know more about the new monitoring features of the CoM reporting and enhanced SEAPs.

Paolo Bertoldi and Giulia Melica - Covenant of Mayors
 

4. Current trends, benchmarking and creating enhanced SEAPS - Pirita Lindholm – Head of Brussels Office - Covenant of Mayors/Climate Alliance

The Climate Alliance is the largest European city network with a focus on climate policies, and one of the networks operating the Covenant of Mayors office for the European Commission. Within the Covenant of Mayors Office, the Climate Alliance is in charge of the Helpdesk function and the monitoring operations together with the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.

“The Covenant of Mayors has been a long process and is still under development”, said Pirita Lindholm from the Covenant of Mayors office, in her speech at the STEP UP workshop for partners and learning cities on November 27th. Despite the long process, it has been successful. Thus far, the Convenant of mayors has had 5295 signatures and 3184 sustainable energy action plans are now registered, with an outcome of expected CO2-reduction of almost 30 % by 2020. 

Pirita stated the importance of an integrated approach, one of the underlying principles of the SEAPs.  “We have today a variety of energy action plans of which some are very integrated, but at the same time there are those who have only a few sectors involved. The more enhanced SEAP should consist of the more holistic view on energy planning”, said Pirita.  Mid-or longterm planning and stakeholder involvement are other crucial and underlying principles in the process.
In the next three years, focus will lay on implementation, both financing of the sustainable energy action plans and how to provide better target support for signatories throughout Europe. To meet local differences, national strategies to identify support needs will be set up, and also strategies on how to engage actors in order to go forward.

 The Covenant of Mayors office has great hopes of the STEP UP project to come up with an in depth view of what makes a SEAP enhanced. According to Pirita, one of the expectations concerns vision, ambition level and target setting. “We now see more and more municipalities going beyond the conventional, and finding new ways to get there." she said. Another expectation is the analysis of established structures – how do the cities organise themselves in developing strategies and for implementation. Another crucial subject is the combining of economic aspects and linking budgeting to energy planning in a structured way.

Current Trends, Benchmarking and Creating Enhanced SEAPS - Pirita Lindholm – Head of Brussels Office - Covenant of Mayors/Climate Alliance

5. How do SEAPs and pilots stimulate the economy and employment? - Han Vandevyvere - Senior Researcher - VITO

VITO is an independent, results-driven research organisation in the Flemish region of Belgium. VITO conducts customer oriented contract research and develops innovative products and processes in the fields of energy, environment and materials, for both the public and the private sector.

The engagement for a SEAP with actions focused on 2020 shall preferably be a city’s first step in the aim of climate neutrality by 2050. A short term vision could result in sub-optimal solutions in the search for integrated sustainability. Han thus advises to consider a SEAP (2020) in the perspective of carbon neutrality (2050) to avoid so called “lock-ins”.

From an economic point of view some fundamental changes in framing are necessary but at the same time the given challenges could also bring opportunities in the sectors concerned to acquire carbon neutrality.

Thus, one of the most important questions -“How to finance the implementation of a SEAP?” as the first challenge can be mirrored into the question “How can a SEAP provide for employment and business opportunities?”. As the main investments compatible with SEAP/carbon neutrality goals require substantial input from the local economy, activating local multipliers results in economic growth, by stimulating a circular economy.

A second change required is adopting another economic perspective, more specifically from a consumption driven perspective towards a value chain driven perspective. Some proven examples of local currency opportunities are mentioned as one of the new concepts in economic set-ups (Torekes – Ghent / Bristol Pound - UK).

The opportunities related to these changes in terms of economy and employment are then further investigated for both the building, the transport and the energy sector. Some indications of how much investment is needed to create a new FTE are given. Current failures in the regulatory and policy frameworks indicate that today the societal challenges still are huge, there is plenty of work to be done, and at the same time there is plenty of unemployment. “It’s a shame, in nature there is no unemployment”.

How do SEAPs and pilots stimulate the economy and employment? - Han Vandevyvere -  VITO

 

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