From the community

The Three4Climate Campus series has taken off

by Linda Beyschlag & Sigrid Lindner, Three4Climate

The Three4Climate project connects six municipalities and six schools from Germany, Portugal and Slovenia to learn from each other on ambitious local climate action. Due to ongoing travel restrictions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, some project activities such as a study tour to Germany had to be postponed or changed to a different format. However, the project team and participants didn’t let that stop them. To keep up the cooperation on local climate action, a series of virtual meetings – the Three4Climate Campus – was developed: Regular meetings offer both schools and municipalities the possibility of horizontal exchange with one another. The meetings are each dedicated to specific topics tailored to the interests and needs of the respective project participants. Some of the meetings scheduled for the beginning of next year focus on vertical exchange – from the local, to the national, all the way to the European level.

Spotlight: Sustainable mobility

The series was kicked off in October with the first meeting of municipal representatives and an impressive presentation by Olaf Lewald, Head of the Office for Mobility and Commissioner of European Affairs from Bielefeld. He highlighted the city’s ambitious target to reduce motorised private traffic in its city center from 50 to 25 percent by 2030. One major step to get there is the reconstruction of the Jahnplatz, Bielefeld’s biggest transport hub at the very center of the city. Concrete measures that this large-scale project envisages include the reduction of two car lanes to one for cars and one for busses and bicycles only, and a reduced speed limit from 50 to 30 km/h. A testing phase of almost two years already shows great results: the number of cars passing Jahnplatz could be reduced from 25.000 to 15.000 per day. Similarly, a significant reduction in air pollution is expected.

Equally as important as concrete measures is to get people on board, as emphasized by Olaf Lewald. The reconstruction that started in August 2020 was preceded by a campaign for public acceptance. In addition to consultations with neighbors, local shop owners and other stakeholders, a website (Jahnplatz bewegt) invites citizens to closely follow the process of reconstruction and voice potential concerns.

Using an innovative role play method, the participants of the meeting from Loulé, Braga, Maribor and Kranj kept Olaf Lewald on his toes with questions from the perspectives of irritated citizens, local activist groups and critical journalists. Bielefeld’s actions for sustainable mobility left a big impression and made participants curious for more.

Group photo of the participants of the 1st edition of the Three4Climate Campus meeting for cities

The representatives from the municipalities in Bielefeld, Braga, Loulé, Maribor and Kranj and the Three4Climate team exchanging on sustainable mobility at the 1st edition of the Three4Climate Campus meetings for cities. Photo: Three4Climate

Spotlight: Energy management

From sustainable mobility to successful energy management: The second edition of the T4C Campus series for cities put the spotlight on Maribor’s 15 years of experience with energy management. Vlasta Krmelj, director of the Energy agency of Podravje (Energap) and Gordana Kolesarič (Municipality of Maribor) presented Maribor’s path from having no energy concept before 2006, to completing one of Slovenia’s biggest renovation projects in 2019: Before the local energy agency and the municipality of Maribor initiated the energy management program, there was no robust information on the energy demand of public buildings, no priorities for investments in renovation measures, and high energy costs in all areas. But by introducing the program, they managed to involve all relevant stakeholders step-by-step, achieved a political commitment and finally reduced CO2-emissions via pilot projects: recently the renovation of 24 public buildings was successfully completed thanks to a public private partnership approach. According to the lessons learnt that were shared during the meeting, most important is to create trust and friendship with all stakeholders to realise fruitful partnerships. Gordana Kolesarič, Senior Adviser at the Municipality of Maribor, emphasised the central role of institutions such as ENERGAP as a main driving force for successfully introducing energy management in Maribor.

Slide asking participants to reflect their experiences with energy management

At the 2nd edition of the Three4Climate Campus meetings for cities, the spotlight was on Maribor’s approach to energy management. The speakers encouraged participants to share their experiences. Photo: Three4Climate

Three4Climate Campus for schools

On November 5th, it was the Three4Climate schools’ turn: Teachers from all six schools came together virtually to exchange perspectives on the European Green Deal and what it means for climate action at the local level. The different topics of the Green Deal were presented to the teachers. As a result, participants specified which of them are most suited for detailed discussion with their students. A ranking by participants showed that clean energy, sustainable mobility and zero-pollution have the highest potential.

Group photo of the participants of the 1st edition of the Three4Climate Campus meetings for schools

Teachers from all Three4Climate schools participated in the first edition of the Three4Climate Campus meetings for schools. Photo: Three4Climate

Next up is a virtual conference that will give students from all three trio countries the opportunity to exchange with Svenja Schulze, the German Minister for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

The Three4Climate Campus series will run from October until February of 2021.

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Three4Climate, Linda Beyschlag