Climate awakening in Erlangen

28. October 2022

In the German city of Erlangen, a citizens' jury together with a group of stakeholders has developed a climate policy roadmap. Of the 41 proposed measures, 14 are to be initially prioritised in 2023. This was decided by the city council on 27 October 2022.

The city of Erlangen has set itself the goal of meeting the 1.5°C climate target on its own city territory. Erlangen is to become net-zero before 2030, i.e. not to emit more climate-damaging gases into the atmosphere than are absorbed by forests on the city's territory, for example. Therefore, the administration wants to concentrate first on the results of citizen participation, which promise a fast and high reduction of carbon emissions and motivate other actors within the city society to act.

Independence from oil and gas

Also in response to the energy crisis triggered by the Ukraine war, Erlangen should become independent of oil and gas. To achieve this, the use of renewable energies is to be massively expanded, energy-saving renovations in the building sector are to be rapidly accelerated and energy is to be saved in principle. In addition, the city wants to strengthen public relations and participation.

With the Roadmap Climate Awakening, Erlangen has a scientifically developed catalogue of measures at its disposal that not only points the way to net-zero, but also offers solutions on how Erlangen can face the energy crisis.

The measures in detail

Net-zero administration: Before 2030, the city administration is to become carbon-neutral through a moratorium on the installation of new oil or gas heating systems, the expansion of solar systems and net-zero municipal properties.

Net-Zero Erlangen Alliance: The city aims to have 50 percent of the companies and businesses located in Erlangen join the Erlangen Climate Alliance by the end of 2023. Within the framework of this alliance, Siemens AG, for example, has committed itself to being carbon-neutral by 2030.

Integrated neighbourhood concepts: Within the framework of the Masterplan Heating 2030, an expansion and decarbonisation of heating networks and a creation of people-friendly neighbourhoods is planned.

Climate budget: In order to ensure that the implementation of the climate protection measures does not lose sight of the goal and can be readjusted if necessary, the implementation is to be monitored and controlled. For this purpose, the instrument "climate budget" is to be tested as a pilot project for the city administration and then extended to companies, for example.

Continuation and expansion of public relations work: The city wants to expand its advisory services, launch a crafts offensive, start a climate protection offensive in companies, expand funding programmes, continue educational campaigns and create a climate action platform.

Influence at state and federal level: Erlangen wants to actively influence the higher levels in order to obtain suitable framework conditions and the necessary resources for carbon neutrality before 2030.

Heat master plan: The central measures of the strategic "heat planning" should be the decarbonisation of the existing heat networks and the construction of new heat networks.

Moratorium on boiler replacement: In order to completely decarbonise the heat supply in Erlangen by 2030, no more new oil or gas heating systems may be installed. In terms of regulatory law, municipalities have little scope for action here, especially in the case of existing buildings. Therefore, in addition to taking appropriate action in its own buildings, the city is relying on the support of companies and other interest groups as part of a voluntary commitment. For owners of residential buildings, for example, a quick changeover to renewable heating can be achieved by joining forces with neighbours.

Carbon-neutral municipal buildings and properties: The city wants to accelerate the energy-efficient refurbishment of buildings through information campaigns, advice and funding programmes. Established building standards are needed that rely on environmentally friendly and resource-saving building materials. Property owners in Erlangen should actively support the development of know-how in this context. The energy requirements of listed buildings should also be significantly reduced while at the same time preserving and upgrading the substance worthy of protection. The city administration wants to support this by providing information and acting as a role model.

People-friendly neighbourhoods: The city wants to make walking, cycling and public transport more attractive through traffic calming measures in the neighbourhoods.

Attractive local transport: In order to support environmentally friendly mobility, the city of Erlangen wants to expand local public transport.

According to the city administration, there are almost no free capacities in the offices for the implementation of the 27 other measures proposed by the citizens' jury and the interest group.

Climate activists disappointed

The decision in the city council on 27 October 2022 was preceded by long and heated discussions. In addition, climate activists from Fridays for Future and the Erlangen Climate Camp protested at the city council meeting. "We are disappointed," says Johanna Theenhaus from the Erlanger Klimacamp. The citizens' jury and interest groups had actually recommended 41 measures. "And these are already minimum consensus," emphasises Christian Lange from Fridays for Future Erlangen. The activists demand that all proposals be implemented quickly and that politicians show more courage. Corresponding motions by Greens, ÖDP, Climate List Erlangen and the Independent Voters Group were rejected by the city council.

Mayor Florian Janik explained that the city of Erlangen has limited financial resources. In addition, some of the proposed points depended on federal laws, for example, which would first have to be changed. According to Janik, the measures that were selected were those that promise quick carbon savings and also offer an answer to the energy crisis. The other measures would not be discarded, but would be further specified and tackled later.

Roadmap drawn between February and July 2022

The "Climate Awakening" roadmap was drawn up between February and July 2022 by participants of the climate jury and a group of stakeholders from important climate-relevant sectors. The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg (ifeu) and the sustainability consultancy Green City Experience helped in the process. The climate protection roadmap defines goals and measures for Erlangen. For this purpose, it was calculated how much carbon emissions in areas such as industry, buildings, transport, trade and agriculture must decrease in the coming years. The roadmap is part of an agreement, the "City Contract Climate", with which the city of Erlangen calls for a credible self-commitment of the actors involved.

The citizens' jury consisted of 25 randomly selected citizens of Erlangen between the ages of 18 and 87. They were to bring the different views and wishes of the population into the process. For this purpose, 750 residents were initially selected according to demographic criteria, from which the final assembly emerged in a second sortition round.

Stakeholders from climate-relevant sectors

The group of stakeholders included about 35 actors from 22 sectors of central relevance to climate protection in Erlangen: Business, city administration, municipal businesses, agriculture, educational institutions, clubs, associations and initiatives. Representatives of the German Bicycle Club (ADFC) and Fridays for Future were on the committee, as well as delegates from the Bavarian Farmers' Association, the German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB), the Homeowners' and Landowners' Association, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the district craftsmen's association, Siemens and Erlangen's public utility company. On the city side, staff from the relevant offices and departments were present.

On 15 July 2022, the citizens' jury adopted its proposal for a catalogue of measures for climate protection. It contains 41 measures for the areas of transport, buildings, food and consumption, energy consumption and overarching solutions.

"Process very encouraging"

The group of stakeholders from 22 institutions from the central climate protection-relevant sectors had made their decision by 15 September 2022 via online survey.

The "Climate Awakening" roadmap received a lot of support from all stakeholders. "The process was very encouraging due to the joint work. When it comes to implementing the climate protection measures, it will be important that we continue to pull together," said Mayor Dr Florian Janik, for example.

Citizens' jury participants "positively impressed"

Participants of the citizens' jury were themselves surprised by the result. "At the start of the citizens' jury, I would not have thought that we would end up with such a clear consensus for climate protection. This shows me that it really is possible to advance climate protection together in a diverse society," said Cjury member Felix Gänsicke. Annina Steuer is also "positively impressed by the scope of the results of the citizens' jury and the topics developed".

In order to actually implement the 14 measures decided by the city council quickly, 17.5 new jobs were created in the city administration. All 41 citizens' assembly recommendations form the basis of the city's actions.

City contract climate

With the symbolic "City Contract Climate", the city furthermore calls on all people in Erlangen to make a contribution. The contract can be signed online since November 2022. Everyone who wants to can then indicate which of the 41 measures they want to support.

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