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ZCC and Energy Cities projects profiled at the Urbact Festival in Paris: Using data to reduce Climate Change

Edited on

01 July 2022
Read time: 5 minutes

Representatives from the six partner cities of the Zero Carbon Cities (ZCC) project met up at the Urbact Festival in Paris and joined with cities involved in related projects on a well-received workshop. The meeting helped explain how cities can use data in the battle to reduce carbon emissions, support energy transition and mitigate the worst effects of climate change.

Joining with Energy Cities, the workshop, ‘Using data to reduce climate change’ was well attended at the festival. It allowed attendees to hear from representatives of five cities about three Urbact-sponsored projects considering different, but related, issues around energy transition and carbon reduction.

The workshop was highly visual in nature, using the ‘Pecha Kucha’ presentational style where speakers talk for 5 minutes about their projects using lots of images to exemplify what was learned from them.

All three projects profiled had used data that was helping partner cities to develop dynamic carbon reduction programmes and support the wider push for moves away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy.


Sonia Dominguez, the Vilawatt UTM Project Coordinator in the City of Viladecans, which lies in the Barcelona region of Catalan Spain, provided a short overview of this project.

In this project Viladecans has been transferring the knowledge it has learned to use energy data in transitioning its energy use away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy alternatives. It has been the lead city working with three other cities - Seraing in Belgium, Nagykanizsa in Hungary and Trikala in Greece.

The main challenge of the Vilawatt project was to achieve a low carbon, socially just, healthier and happier local community, where citizens play an active role in that change in order to secure a stable Energy Transition Process for Viladecans city.

From all the challenges that a community must face in an energy transition process, Vilawatt focused on unlocking the energy renovation of residential buildings. The proposal aimed at addressing this situation firstly in low-income communities where higher efforts need to be done (in Spain about 17% homes are suffering from fuel poverty).

This Energy Transition involved the creation of an Innovative Public-Private-Citizen Governance Partnership at Local level (PPCP). This new PPCP was the central hub managing a range of new local data tools for the transition across energy supply, energy currency, energy savings services, deep energy renovation investments and renewable energy production.

This project has delivered a real benefit to Viladecan in improving the energy efficiency of a considerable amount of its housing stock, bringing a positive impact to its carbon footprint. Data was essential in learning how to develop this programme, which Viladecan has explained carefully to the three other participating cities.


UrbEnPact – moving together to create net zero energy cities

The second Energy Cities supported project is UrbEnPact. This project was led by Clermont Auvergne Métropole (France) and includes the cities / city regions of Bialystok (Poland), Palma di Montechiaro (Italy), Alto Minho (Portugal), Métropole Rouen Normandie (France), Galati (Romania), Tampere (Finland) and Elefsina (Greece).

The network objectives of UrbEnPact are to look at ways cities can become net-zero energy territories by 2050, focusing on three areas:

  • Reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions
  • Increasing local renewable energy production, and increasing low carbon energy sources
  • Balancing energy production and consumption to achieve net zero energy territory status.

Agnès Grandou, the local COP21 project manager and transition policies coordinator for the Métropole Rouen Normandie city region explained how they use data to engage citizens and civil society on carbon emissions and reducing the carbon footprint. The data has particularly helped them to understand complicated global information from the likes of the IPCC and focused on how they can work on developing concrete actions, such us its work on ‘Earth Hour’, to show the benefits of undertaking climate activity.


Silva Vuopponen, the Project Manager of EcoFellows Ltd, working with the City of Tampere, outlined the work they did on their city carbon budget using a different methodology, estimated on the basis of costs. Tampere has a very ambitious target to be carbon neutral by 2030, needing to reduce carbon by 80% on 1990 levels.

To address this carbon challenge, the city devised a roadmap with six different themes centred on sustainability: city planning, mobility, construction, energy, consumption, and urban nature. Every theme has a specific goal in mind, as well as a group action. So far, the city has identified over 200 individual actions. These are implemented in two ways: either through the city’s strategic management system, or through projects such as smart energy projects like STARDUST, 6Aika, and UnaLab, and collaborative efforts done with citizens, companies and the local university.

Zero Carbon Cities – establishing science-based targets and carbon budgets

Two of the six partners of the Zero Carbon Cities project completed the workshop explaining the activity they had undertaken in calculating a science-based target and carbon budgets that align to the target. The project was led by Manchester (UK) and includes Bistrita (Romania), Modena (Italy), Tartu (Estonia), Vilvoorde (Belgium) and Zadar (Croatia).


Iulia-Ramona Popartac, an International Relations Officer in the European Integration Department of the Romanian Municipality of Bistrita, explained the considerations they had used as to which type of scientific model to develop carbon budgets was appropriate to use for the city. Iulia also outlined how they were using air quality data as a communications tool with citizens, and as a strategic tool with their Climate Budget.


Concluding the workshop, Sean Morris, Policy and Strategy Lead for Manchester Climate Change Agency advising Manchester City Council, outlined the work to develop, refine and scale-up action on keeping within the city’s carbon budgets. Manchester Climate Change Agency set a science-based target and carbon budgets for the city from 2018 – 2100 in association with the Tyndall Centre at the University of Manchester.

Following on from developing its Climate Change Framework for 2020 – 2025, Manchester Climate Change Agency and Manchester City Council have worked closely with the environmental consultancy Anthesis to refresh that Framework by calculating recent carbon emissions and the core targets it requires to meet a 50% cut in carbon emissions. Using this data has allowed Manchester to calculate what scaled-up action it now needs to make to achieve its 2038 zero-carbon target.

The projects welcomed sharing their experience at the Urbact Festival and the valuable opportunity to connect together in Paris.