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European Climate Conference in Rovigo, 2-4 April 2008

Local decision-makers have a critical opportunity, and a responsibility, to address mitigation at a community level. They also need to address the impacts of climate change, assess what this means for their communities and develop adaptation actions, to improve the resilience of their communities.

What can Local Government do?

Local governments have extensive power to affect the main sources of pollution directly linked to climate change in their communities: energy use, transportation, and waste. Cities control many of the day-to-day activities that determine the amount of energy used and waste generated by their community-from land use and zoning decisions to control over building codes and licenses, infrastructure investments, municipal service delivery and management of schools, parks and recreation areas.

What are the main reasons that local government should act?

  • Save money by saving energy, using energy more efficiently: Actions that reduce global warming pollution also reduce electricity and fuel, minimize energy costs for citizens and businesses.
  • Build and regenerate local economy, create jobs: Decreased energy costs and the provision of new energy services and technologies give local government and private firms a competitive edge. The demand for energy efficient products and services and for new or alternative energy technologies expands local business and creates local services and local jobs.
  • Improve air quality and public health
  • Improve community live-ability
  • Connect cities and towns with national European and international leaders; by joining these, local governments unify and so strengthen their position.

Local Action – a starting point

A wide variety of actions can be considered by a local government for mitigation, as well adaptation. In both areas initial study is needed to properly identify the problem such as: the pollution areas of the city, the new buildings.

The main steps of the development process

Each of the following steps contributes towards moving ahead in climate protection. As a cycle the idea is to start the process, go through each of the steps and determine what has been achieved, then to start the process all over again with the aim to achieve the next level of improvements. This is a long-term approach to climate protection.

  1. Develop a Climate Action Plan with the aim to reduce gas emissions and meet target, and to improve community resilience.
  2. Adopt local plans with the national ones, and with the appropriate legislation.
  3. Implement actions in the community.
  4. Set an emissions reduction target, and identify relevant adaptation strategies for consideration.
  5. Monitor and verify emissions reduction and adaptation progress, and report.

Establish a Climate Action Team: forming a climate action team can provide an effective vehicle for defining and delegating tasks in drafting the Action Plan. Deciding who to include on the Climate Action team and how many persons; it depends on if we want to create a forum for the municipality staff or a consultative body. If so, which department will be involved and which will take the lead? Will an outside contractor be hired? Etc…

Involve Key Stakeholders and the Community: A collaborative team can also be an effective means for involving stakeholders such as: businesses, residents, community groups etc. this means that they should be included in the first moment of drafting the plan, in the process of formulating it; Public participation processes such as: public hearings, informing the public and workshops. This will help in having more efficient process and achieving successful results.

Get the word out: Spreading the word about our climate protection efforts is an ongoing process. Publicizing our local government’s initiative can help gain public support at an early stage, might help identify people willing to add value to our efforts.
Some of the main steps for the reduction of CO2:

Lightning:

  • Replace the existing bulbs with the economic one;
  • Install movement sensors in staircases walkways to switch on lightning only as needed.
  • Install solar photovoltaic street and emergency lightning;

Buildings:

  • Use renewable energy for electricity, heating and cooling;
  • Improve building standards to promote energy efficiency for new construction and building renovations.
  • Offer municipal roof space for solar installations, either as a business model (leasing space) or a community involvement model.

Also:

  • Reduce total number of vehicles in the fleet, provide bicycles for the short trips as an alternative cars;
  • Promote the mobility with the public transport;
  • Put the differentiate garbage container: plastic, aluminum and glass.

Preparing for the climate change it is a long-term process. Its impact varies from place to place, the combination of institutions and legal and political tools available to public decisions makers are unique from region to region. Preparedness actions will need to be tailored to the circumstances of different communities. It is therefore necessary that local, regional and central government take an active role in preparing for climate change impacts.