Welcome to Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy

A voluntary commitment to achieve EU’s climate and energy targets

To combat climate changes, EU has decided on a reduction of greenhouse gases (GHG) by 40% to 2030.

Through the Covenant of Mayors, cities, provinces and regions can contribute to reach this goal while accelerating their local decarbonization.

The commitment also focuses on strengthen the local resilience to the impacts of climate change, as well as on the citizens’ access to secure, sustainable and affordable energy.

Learn more about the covenant and associated action plan in these educational slides. This education was developed within the EU project EMPOWERING, empowering2020.eu

The lesson takes 5-10 minutes.

From launch to present situation

The Covenant of Mayors was launched in 2008 by the European Commission with the objective of engaging and supporting mayors to commit to reach the EU climate and energy targets.

2014 the Mayors Adapt initiative was introduced to increase the focus of local governments on adaptation to climate change.

In 2015, the initiatives were merged to the new Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, aiming for the 2030 targets of a reduction of greenhouse gases by 40%. The new commitment also included a pledge to adopt approaches to climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as to ensure access to secure, sustainable and affordable energy for all citizens.

Altogether, there are at present near 8000 (old and new) commitments signed, now also reaching countries outside Europe. So far, this has led to a reduction of GHG emissions by 23% on average (expressed in CO2 equivalents in 2016).

Covenant community

Implementing Covenant of Mayors, means adopting a bottom-up approach, bringing together local and regional authorities and stakeholders to voluntary commit to achieve EU’s climate and energy targets. The commitment gives a stronger voice to local initiatives, facilitated by covenant community including:

  • Signatories – which are local authorities democratically constituted by elected representatives,
  • Coordinators – which are public authorities providing strategic guidance, technical and financial support, and
  • Supporters – which are associations networking, promoting and supporting the signatories.

The covenant community is also going global by spreading to a number of regions outside Europe.

The Convenant step by step

The process for a Covenant of Mayors signatory involves the following steps:

1

  • Political commitment by signing the Covenant of Mayors.
  • Working with defining ambitions and targets.

2

  • Establishing an action plan within 2 years, including baseline emission inventory and climate change risk and vulnerability assessment.
  • Implementing practical actions.

3

  • Submitting monitoring report every 2 years.
  • Continuous work with evaluating and readjusting priorities.

Image source: Covenant of Mayors – Europe Office

Transforming into actions

The political commitment is transformed into practical actions by establishing a Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan (SECAP), which before the 2015 revised Covenant of Mayors, was named Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP). The action plan includes:

  • An overall strategy for the local work on mitigation and adaptation, including defining targets, stakeholders, funding, etc.
  • Mitigation of GHG emissions
  • Adaptation to climate change*

In addition, the convent framework comprises access to secure, sustainable and affordable energy, including energy poverty. Guidance on this is under development. *which is a separate part in the case of a SEAP

Mitigation of GHG emissions

The mitigation part in the action plan focuses on GHG emissions from final energy use in sectors under the local authority, where municipal buildings, tertiary buildings, residential buildings and transports are mandatory sectors.

The work includes:

  • Baseline Emission Inventory (BEI), which comprises GHG emissions in the base year (reference).
  • Mitigation Actions planned and their estimated energy savings, renewable energy production and CO2 reduction.
  • Monitoring Emission Inventories (MEIs), which are follow-ups every two years of the status of the GHG emissions.

Adaptation to climate change

The part in the action plan on adaptation to climate change encompasses analysing potential hazards and assessing vulnerability that could be a potential threat or harm for the city, province or region in question. The work includes:

  • Adaptation Scoreboard, which is a self-assessment of the status of the process of adaptation to climate change.
  • Risk and Vulnerability Assessment evaluating: • hazard risks, e.g. heat waves, storms, forest fires, • vulnerabilities, including socio-economic, physical and environmental, and • expected climate change impacts without adaptation per sector.
  • Adaptation Actions planned together with time frames and assigned responsibilities.

In the case of a SEAP, the adaptation is a separate part.

Support to signatories by Covenant of Mayors Office

The Covenant of Mayors Office have set up and are arranging several support activities, including:

  • Helpdesks with different expertise.
  • Capacity-building events, e.g. webinars, workshops, finance working groups, city-twinning programme.
  • Covenant capacity-sharing, e.g. discussion forums, resource library.
  • Financing support, including interactive funding guide.

In the online library of the Covenant of Mayors Office www.covenantofmayors.eu/support/library a guidebook on SECAP can be found – Guidebook ‘How to develop a Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan (SECAP)’. Part 1 – The SECAP process, step-by-step towards low carbon and climate resilient cities by 2030

For more information, see www.covenantofmayors.eu

Further educational slides can be found on empowering2020.eu/education

This educational slide in other languages:

It is all about the data!

What data is required for the Baseline Emission Inventory?

The commitment of the Covenant of Mayors is transformed into practical actions by establishing a Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan (SECAP)*. In the action plan, you carry out a Baseline Emission Inventory in order to document the status of the local emissions of greenhouse gases during a reference year.

Take a few minutes to learn about the Baseline Emission Inventory and what data is required.

This education was developed within the EU project EMPOWERING, empowering2020.eu

The lesson takes 5-10 minutes.

*which before the 2015 revised Covenant of Mayors, was named Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP)

Mitigation of GHG emissions

The mitigation part in the action plan (SECAP) focuses on GHG emissions from final energy use in sectors under the local authority.

The mitigation part includes:

  1. CO2 emissions* in the base year (reference).
  2. Mitigation actions planned and their estimated energy savings, renewable energy production and CO2 reduction.
  3. Follow-ups every two years of the status of the CO2 emissions, and the final reduction in the target year.

*or GHG emissions expressed as CO2 equivalent

Baseline Emission Inventory, BEI

The Baseline Emission Inventory is the starting point of the mitigation of the GHG emissions as it is where you quantify the amount of CO2 emitted, during the base year. This is done for the key sectors, as well as other optional sectors, operating within the local territory.

The BEI is based on the final energy consumption, including both municipal and non-municipal energy use. It covers direct emissions from fuel combustion in buildings and facilities as well as transportations. It also covers indirect emissions related to the production of electricity, heat and cold that are consumed within the territory.

There are two alternatives for finding BEI data:

  • Collection of actual data. This option is strongly recommended!
  • Estimation of data. Only when actual data is not available. In this case, assumptions must comply with the requirements of the Covenant of Mayors.

The geographical boundaries of the BEI are the administrative boundaries of the local authority.

Base year

The base year is the reference year which your inventory refers to and for which the data is quantified. It is the emission in the base year that the achieved reduction in the target year is compared to.

 

It is recommended that you use 1990 as the base year, in order to be inline with EU targets, such as the target of a GHG reduction by 40% to 2030 compared to 1990. In case this is not possible, the closest subsequent year shall be selected where comprehensive and reliable data are available.

Other information of interest is the number of inhabitants of the region in question in order to calculate per capita indicators.

Energy use

You collect data on the final energy use for sectors under the local authority, where the key sectors (mandatory) are:

  • Municipal buildings – buildings and facilities that are public or owned by the local authority, e.g. government offices, schools, police stations, hospitals, etc.
  • Tertiary buildings – includes services such as offices of private companies, banks, commercial and retail activities, private schools, hospitals, etc.
  • Residential buildings – buildings that are primarily used for residential purposes.
  • Transports – e.g. municipal car fleet and local public transport.

You specify the energy use for each energy carrier, including:

  • Electricity delivered to end-users (the purchase of certified green electricity can be stated)
  • Heat and cold delivered to end-users (e.g. district heating and cooling)
  • Fossil fuels consumed by end-users
  • Renewable energies consumed by end-users

Energy supply

You are able to include the locally produced energy – both from renewable and non-renewable energy sources – in the BEI following certain criteria*.

The local production of energy are considered in the calculation of the local emission factors, that are applied to the local consumption of electricity and heat/cold.

This data is also utilised to visualise the proportion of locally produced energy compared to total energy use, where the share of renewable energy sources is shown separately.

* The criteria are that the plant is not included in the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) or that the capacity is not above 20MW.

CO2 emissions

CO2 emissions are calculated for each energy carrier by multiplying the energy consumption with the corresponding emission factor – expressed as either tonnes CO2 or CO2 equivalent* per MWh energy.

Emission factors could be calculated by two approaches:

  • Standard emission factors (IPCC), which are based on the carbon content of each fuel, and cover the final use of the fuel.
  • Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) emission factors, which in addition to the final use of the fuel, also cover all emissions of the supply chain, i.e. emissions from exploitation, transport and processing of the fuel.

Default emission factors are available for different fuels, but you can also choose emission factors that are more appropriate for your local context.

You need to calculate the local emission factors for electricity and heat/cold based on the local energy production mix. To also show the effect of changes in the national power grid mix, you need to state the national emission factor for electricity.

*CO2 equivalents are used if you consider other green house gases as well as CO2

Guidebook and templates

To support the signatories to carry out a Baseline Emission Inventory, you will find the following documents useful.

  • In the online library of the Covenant of Mayors Office www.covenantofmayors.eu/support/library
    • A guidebook on BEI can be found – Guidebook ‘How to develop a Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan (SECAP)’. PART 2 – Baseline Emission Inventory (BEI) and Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (RVA)
    • The SECAP template can be found, where data shall be entered.
  • There is an Empowering template for the collection of data on energy use and energy supply, https://empowering2020.eu/collect-analyse-register-data

For general support, turn to www.covenantofmayors.eu

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Time for actions!

How to select actions for your SECAP

The commitment of the Covenant of Mayors is transformed into practical actions by establishing a Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan (SECAP)*. In the action plan, you state your choice of measures that will help you reach the 40% reduction of greenhouse gases by 2030.

But how should you select the actions? Which aspects are important to consider? As a first guide, take a few minutes to look through this education.

This education was developed within the EU project EMPOWERING, empowering2020.eu

The lesson takes 10-15 minutes.

*which before the 2015 revised Covenant of Mayors, was named Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP)

What activities are we talking about?

– Scope and focus of actions

The Covenant of Mayors is about acting at the local and regional level and covers the entire geographical area of the local authority (city, province or region). The SECAP concerns activities both in the public and the private sectors.

The actions are focused on mitigation of GHG emissions from the final energy use as well as on adaptation to climate change.
The mitigation actions encompass the sectors of municipal buildings, tertiary buildings, residential buildings and transports, but can also include actions related to the local energy generation.

The adaptation actions target the sectors and areas that have been identified as the most vulnerable to climate changes in the city.

Many possibilities for the local authority!

– The implementer, enabler, provider, policymaker and planner

The local authority have the greatest influence on the assets that are owned or managed by themselves, such as public buildings. By being an implementer of energy efficient measures as well as locally produced energy based on renewable energy sources, the local authority can take the lead and inspire other stakeholders within the city.

But the role of the local authority is greater than that! For example, the authority facilitates and enables cooperation between community stakeholders, as well as, arranges and promotes knowledge-enhancing activities. The local authority is also a provider of services in the city, such as public transportations, and usually has a certain influence on the local energy system. Additionally, the authority is a policymaker who establishes regulations and develops principles for urban planning. In every role there is a possibility for local authorities to take action to promote a reduction of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Source: Guidebook on developing a SECAP

To consider before choosing actions

The following aspects are important to consider before starting the process of choosing actions:

Policies and regulations – Which local, regional, national and EU policies and regulations exist that need to be taken into account?

Local plans – Are there already developed plans in the city that can serve as a good starting point?

Stakeholders – The engagement and cooperation of local stakeholders is crucial. What actors in the city are responsible for large emissions and need to be involved? Have any stakeholders already taken actions? Where is the expertise, support functions and useful networks within the city?

Co-benefits – Are there any co-benefits of the actions? E.g. better outdoor air quality, improved health conditions, better indoor environments, new job opportunities, better flows in urban transportations, greater energy security. Co-benefits can serve as selling points towards politicians, decision makers etc.

Capability – What resources are available to implement the action plan? This can regard competence, personnel and economic resources. Several departments and services most probably need to be involved.

Taking actions to mitigate GHG emissions

As part of the SECAP, you carry out a Baseline Emission Inventory (BEI) in order to document the status of the local emissions of greenhouse gases during a reference year. The BEI serves as the point of departure for recognising emission sources to focus on.

For each area in focus, feasible and “effective” actions are identified. Effectiveness is often assessed in money, resources or impact. For example, different actions’ ratios of estimated cost to CO2 emission reduction could be compared.

However, in order to reach the CO2 targets, it may be necessary to realise both profitable and less profitable measures. Carrying out multiple measures when, for example, the “renovation window” is open anyway, can then be the most effective way.

Mitigation actions sector by sector

– The building sector

CO2 emissions related to the building sector can be cut through energy efficient technology in new buildings, refurbishment of existing buildings to improve energy efficiency and substitution of fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. Operation and usage of the buildings are also important aspects for the final energy use.

Different aspects of the building, where energy savings can be considered:

  • Design of building in relation to the local environment
  • Usage of buildings and indoor comfort
  • Building envelope and solar protection
  • Building services, equipment and lighting
  • Building automation and control systems

The local authority can promote the implementation of energy efficient measures in buildings through regulation and supporting activities, such as introducing energy requirements in (local) building codes, establishing financial instruments for energy efficiency actions, providing guidance in retrofitting existing buildings.

Mitigation actions sector by sector

– The transport sector

Activities to mitigate CO2 emissions from cities’ transport systems address the vehicle fleet (municipal, private and commercial) and public transports and other mobility solutions, as well as actions related to urban planning.

Strategies can include limiting or avoiding the need for transportation, for example by urban planning prioritising shorter travel distances for inhabitants. Strategies can also aim at facilitating a shift in people’s travel modes, where public transport with lower emissions than private vehicles is promoted and made more accessible, together with other mobility solutions like walking and cycling. In addition, local authorities can strive to influence the improvement of the vehicle fleet regarding reduced fuel consumption (efficiency) and the change of fuels and energy carriers.

Mitigation actions sector by sector

– Local energy generation and renewable energy sources

The local authority usually has a certain influence on the local energy system, as the owner, or partner, of the local energy utilities. Activities promoting local energy generation ranges from decentralised renewable energy in buildings to the city’s centralised energy systems.

Actions related to renewable energy in buildings are focused on PV panels, solar thermal systems, biomass systems and geothermal heat pumps. Sustainable local electricity production includes technologies such as photovoltaic electricity generation, wind power, hydroelectric plants (incl. small hydropower applications), as well as the power output of cogeneration (e.g. from bioenergy). For the local production of heat or cold, large solar thermal systems, thermal energy storage, and district heating and cooling are important solutions. Actions that promote high-efficiency cogeneration power plants can also be beneficial in a sustainable energy system.

Mitigation actions sector by sector

– Local energy generation and renewable energy sources (continued)

Waste and water management is part of the local energy system, by for example the production of biogas (e.g. from waste landfills) or the utilisation of residual heat from wastewater.

Actions should also promote the minimisation of waste generation and water usage, as it will decrease the demand for energy in these systems. The integration of renewable energy sources should be supported as well.

Source: Guidebook on developing a SECAP

Mitigation actions sector by sector

– Other areas

Saving energy for outdoor lighting purposes is another area that local authorities can target measures towards. Most savings are gained by changing to energy-efficient and durable lamps for public and infrastructure lighting, but measures can also include installing lighting control techniques. Lamps with long life spans mean reduced maintenance as well.

Urban and land use planning has a role in addressing climate change as it can take a holistic approach towards a common goal, integrating several areas, such as transport, energy, buildings, planning. The layout of neighbourhoods affects the urban density and mobility, which impacts the level of CO2 emissions. Hence, the development of energy-efficient districts require that land use and transport planning are integrated.

Source: Guidebook on developing a SECAP

Taking actions to adapt to climate change

As part of the SECAP, a Risk and Vulnerability Assessment is carried in order to gain deeper understanding of potential climate hazards of cities and regions, e.g. heat waves, storms, fires. Vulnerable areas and sectors are identified, which lead to a number of focus areas, where there are higher climate risk, and to which adaptation actions should be directed.

Adaptation actions are focused on improving the resilience of the targeted sector or system and covers a range of measures. For example, actions can include infrastructure measures such as strengthen and renovating buildings or constructing flood defences. Further examples are focused on implementing and expanding green areas, green building facades and roofs, in order to improve water retention and to lower urban air temperatures. Considering how to avoid or reduce exposure to climate risk in the planning of land use is also important. Other measures address adaptive capacity building, which means developing the ability of people, authorities and sectors to effectively manage climate change.

Source: Urban adaptation support tool

Further actions by the local authority

Additional actions that can be carried out by the local authority include the following areas.

Information and education
The local authority shall educate stakeholders and citizens about the risks of climate change and what they can do to reduce their impact through behavioural changes. Increasing people’s knowledge and awareness can be carried out through information campaigns in combination with other activities such as participatory workshops, customised advice and support, training sessions, demonstration of technologies, etc.

Factors that are important to consider in order to gain people’s attention and engagement include the framing of the information as well as the choice of communication channel. Considering the specifics of the target group in question is also important, whether the information is aimed for the general public, residents of a specific housing area, school children, or the staff at the local authority, or other professionals.

 

Further actions by the local authority

(Continued)

Cooperation and networking
The local authority shall facilitate cooperation among local stakeholders representing public and private sectors as well as citizen groups. Arranging networking activities for experience and knowledge-sharing can be a valuable activity.

Promotion of energy efficient products
The local authority can encourage the markets for energy efficient technologies, products and services by including energy efficiency as a criterion in their public procurements.

There is support!

To support the signatories in selecting actions for their SECAPs, the following information will be helpful.

Guidebook on developing a SECAP
In the online library of the Covenant of Mayors Office a guidebook describing policies and actions that local authorities can implement in their action plan can be found: Guidebook ‘How to develop a Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan (SECAP)’. PART 3 – Policies, key actions, good practices for mitigation and adaptation to climate change and Financing SECAP(s). www.covenantofmayors.eu/support/library

Board game on developing a SECAP
This board game supports cities in making their local action plans. www.eumayors.eu/news-and-events/news/1558-covenant-game-article 

Urban adaptation support tool
This tool describes the different steps in developing a plan for cities’ adaptation to climate change. www.eumayors.eu/support/adaptation-resources

Good practices databases
In this database Covenant Signatories are sharing their key actions as a source of inspiration for others, which includes achievements, case studies, city profiles, videos, etc. www.covenantofmayors.eu/plans-and-actions/good-practices 

Several best practices are compiled on the Empowering learning platform. empowering2020.eu/best-practices-database  

Tools and Methodologies for energy savings
A list of tools and methodologies for implementation of sustainable energy actions and measures are compiled by Mayors in Action. www.mayorsinaction.eu/resources/training-tools 

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