Local authorities are becoming increasingly concerned by climate change and resource depletion. Plenty of them are already participating in regional, national or international initiatives. Since the nineties, the Greater Lyon conurbation – the second biggest urban area in France – has been involved in various environmental and sustainable development strategies. It signed the Covenant of Mayors in 2008, and is currently collaborating with local stakeholders to develop a climate action plan. Comprising of 57 cities, the Greater Lyon conurbation has called on its constituents to take part in this process and has asked the Local Energy Agency of Greater Lyon (ALE Lyon) to assist in this process. ALE Lyon has therefore developed, with a team of six volunteer cities, a tool to help municipalities develop their climate action plans.
The tool is based on the “climate compass” methodology created by the Climate Alliance network. It's a template of 8 sheets, addressing the main sectors for municipal action (energy and climate management, training and communication, municipal buildings and energy distribution, transportation, economic activities). Each one is divided into approximately ten actions, with 5 different progress levels from E to A – similar to the energy label scale.
The actions have been adapted to suit both French and local contexts, particularly in terms of the competences of the city. The aim has been to propose a “do it yourself” assessment tool, to be used by the city’s technical staff in order to identify which actions have already been implemented. The city pilot begins with a discussion of the implementation of each proposed action among colleagues. Together they decide which level they have reached. To this end, the participants form a shared diagnosis of the city’s situation. As a second step, the tool can be used to identify additional actions to develop the city’s climate and energy action plan. The local energy agency is financed by the Greater Lyon conurbation to give free support, in the shape of 5 days per year, to volunteer cities in order to help them to implement this methodology.
After one year of implementation, the first results indicate that the tool has proved useful to local cities. 21 of the 57 cities have declared their interest in the first call for tenders, and the group is expected to grow next year. A quarter of them are currently finalising their action plan. The methodology has been used in cities involved in the Local Agenda 21 initiative, as well as in others with no formalised strategy.
The tool is used in small cities (less than 1,000 inhabitants) as well as very large ones (more than 50,000 inhabitants). It can be used as a first step towards more precise commitments or certifications, such as the European Energy Award (EEA) or the Covenant of Mayors. It is not a quantitative tool and does not help in the calculation of a GHG emission inventory. It is based on the idea that the diagnosis can be part of the action plan, and in the case of Greater Lyon this diagnosis has been made at the conurbation level. This diagnosis is already partly available.
Awareness raising activities among local officials are also currently under way. This is a central activity for ALE Lyon – which celebrated its 10th birthday in November 2010. The association expects the cities to put most of their available time into concrete actions, training and awareness raising activities with the local stakeholders, to show that climate and energy commitments can yield rapid results.
In 2011, ALE Lyon will gather interested cities together in working groups based on common actions (i.e. municipal buildings refurbishment, urban planning and energy advices, climate communication with citizens), in order to accelerate implementation through local benchmarking. By 2014 – the end of the cities mandate in France – the Greater Lyon conurbation hope to have a clear indication of which cities are on course to meet the 20/20/20 targets.
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