Climate-KIC at the World Summit of Regions for Climate in Paris
The 2014 World Summit of Regions for Climate took place in Paris on 10 and 11 October. Climate-KIC CEO Bertrand van Ee spoke at the summit and highlighted the strategic importance of developing more sustainable cities to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Chaired by former Governor of California and Founding Chair of R20 Regions of Climate Action, Arnold Schwarzenegger, this summit of global importance gathered regional and local governments from the five continents, as well as economic leaders, to contribute to a new international agreement on climate change.
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Spearheading transformative climate innovation in Europe’s cities
The EU’s roadmap for transition to a competitive low carbon economy envisages an 80 per cent reduction in domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. As the world’s third largest source of carbon emissions, Europe also has a crucial role to play in meeting global reduction targets. By 2015, some 70 per cent of the world’s population will live and work in cities, accounting for 80 per cent of energy consumption. Nowhere is the climate challenge more pressing than in our cities.
Funded by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT), and with a budget in 2014 of €75m, Climate-KIC carries the EU’s mandate to deliver large-scale innovation for climate change mitigation across the continent and beyond it.
‘By scaling up its uniquely integrated innovation model and investing in an ambitious range of challenge-led or demand-driven demonstrator programmes, Climate-KIC is leading the way in helping our cities chart a path to successful low carbon transition,’ says Bertrand van Ee.
“Climate change remains the biggest challenge facing the world, and Europe is a hotbed for climate innovation” – Bertrand van Ee, Chief Executive Officer
We drive climate innovation in Europe and beyond
Climate-KIC is one of three Knowledge and Innovation Communities set up by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT).
Our mission is to spark and deliver innovative solutions to climate change via a dynamic alliance of European partners drawn from academia, industry and the public sector.
Our vision is to provide the people, products and leadership to confront the climate challenge globally. In driving innovation for climate change mitigation or adaptation we help the world’s next economy.
Across Europe we have six co-location centres or ‘innovation factories’ led by world-class universities and companies. Additionally, our six regional innovation communities, led by local or regional government, support the testing, implementation and scaling up of innovation.
We connect research and technology with business
Climate-KIC links research, technology, business and city/regional government to find ways of mitigating or adapting to climate change and accelerating the solutions to market. Our business model has three areas of expertise.
In innovation we identify and develop the market potential of emerging technologies, creating new products, services and jobs in Europe with a global impact on climate change.
In education we recruit, nurture and develop entrepreneurs to become agents of change. Our courses combine climate change science and entrepreneurship with a practical programme of learning-by-doing featuring real-life challenges and innovation projects.
In entrepreneurship we open up the market for small businesses and start-ups working in the areas of climate innovation, providing the opportunities and practical tools to turn ideas into commercial success.
Eight key climate challenges drive everything we do
- Greenhouse gas monitoring |Measuring greenhouse gases in support of climate change mitigation
- Adaptation services | Increasing the ability of cities, societies and infrastructures to adapt to climate change
- Making transitions happen | Creating the low-carbon culture that inspires companies, communities and citizens to reduce their impacts and to connect globally on the climate change challenge
- Sustainable city systems | Moving towards decentralised and integrated energy, waste and water utilities and more sustainable transport systems
- Built environment | Creating energy-efficient, low-carbon structures, and ‘retrofitting’ old ones
- Land and water | Supporting the adaptation of water engineering and agriculture to climate change and linking it to better land use and ecosystem services delivery
- Industrial symbiosis | Boosting efficiency by turning waste, including food waste and carbon dioxide (CO2), into a resource
- Developing a bio-economy | Supporting the transition to a bio-based economy to reduce our carbon footprint
Marrying technological innovation with social transformation
As its name suggests, Climate-KIC’s Making Transitions Happen challenge is all about doing smart things in smarter ways – in our cities and elsewhere. But unlike the wide-ranging and far-reaching Climate-KIC programmes it supports, the cross-disciplinary initiative has a non-technical brief that focuses on shifting mindsets and behaviours at the institutional, organisational and human levels.
‘We all know there’s no magic bullet we can use to beat climate change,’ says Making Transitions Happen co-chair Jon Bloomfield. ‘What is equally clear is we need a comprehensive approach to mitigation that tackles production, consumption, and the way people live their everyday lives.’
In helping cities and regions move from high to low carbon strategies or outcomes, Climate-KIC’s initiative yokes civic engagement to economic aspiration. ‘Quite simply,’ says Jon Bloomfield, ‘we won’t meet our climate targets, current or future, without combining social and technical forces.’
Moving our cities towards a low carbon future calls for a new way of thinking – systems thinking – that reaches out to new audiences. It means bringing a broader range of stakeholders together. It means going beyond the idea of experts working in their familiar, but separate, spaces.
Planning and delivering the climate-resilient cities of the future
Realising a low carbon future for our cities means transforming our utility infrastructures to create multi-level energy systems that admit sustainable resources such as wind, solar and geothermal. It also means integrating use and reuse of waste and heat flows, and developing smarter control options that optimise variables in demand and supply. The goal is to maximise the acknowledged benefits of cities while successfully managing their downside.
With a focus on these and other imperatives, Climate-KIC’s Sustainable City Systems programme sets out to establish the climate-resilient cities of tomorrow. ‘A key task,’ says platform manager Maria Loloni, ‘is to get stakeholders to think in more systemic ways, focusing on integrated solutions that are replicable and scalable. It’s about reversing silo thinking at the city level.’
Greenhouse gas emissions – if you want to manage them, first measure them
As well as innovating to develop and deliver marketable measurement techniques that accelerate GHG mitigation in our cities and regions, Climate-KIC’s Greenhouse Gas Monitoring, Reporting & Verification programme actively supports the wider policy process. By helping to engender trust in carbon markets and other financial instruments within Europe’s burgeoning climate economy, the initiative encourages important political commitment and consensus.
Already helping Europe’s cities move to a low carbon future, the Climate-KIC project starts with a simple proposition – you can’t manage what you don’t measure. It goes on to make the business case for emission cuts and economic growth in the context of greener living and smarter working.
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Cross-sector participation in a leading professional education programme
In 2014, 260 individuals from 11 European regions are taking part in Climate-KIC’s leading professional education programme Pioneers into Practice. Key aspects of the programme include cross-sector participation; mobility between European region; learning-by-doing in regional projects; mentored workshops on approaches to system innovation.
It provides a model which can be replicated in other regions to promote high-level skills for the low-carbon economy.
Broader reach across Europe
Climate-KIC’s six regional innovation centres have initiated partnerships with EU regions previously outside of the organisation’s reach, increasing Climate-KIC’s impact on climate change mitigation and adaptation across Europe. Under the new scheme, regions in Ireland, Finland, Portugal, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovenia will be taking part in Climate-KIC’s climate innovation programmes. Climate-KIC already has regional centres in Hungary, Italy, Germany, Poland, Spain and the UK.
Developing new talent
A climate business school will be launched in 2014 targeting visionary global leaders to catalyse change for a sustainable environmental and economic future. Building our education network internationally, Climate-KIC will develop strategic relationships to meet climate change and green economic development challenges with the potential to provide access to new funding or revenue. The investment into elearning will be a major activity for 2014, together with creating the climate and sustainability focused modules into a Massive Open Online Masters Programme (MOOP), in collaboration with KIC InnoEnergy and EIT ICT Labs.
Climate-KIC aims to lead by example in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Using the expertise within our network we are creating the framework to evaluate and prioritise our innovation activities for their target mitigation and adaptation benefits. Since 2012 we have maintained a carbon neutral footprint for our own operations through offsetting.
Coordinating low-carbon investments across regions
Climate-KIC is working directly with Poland’s Lower Silesia regional government and its partners to develop an integrated low-carbon innovation programme. The initiative will be jointly delivered over the coming years. The region is proposing to invest approximately €600 million in the period up to 2020.
Sparking sustainable development in our urban neighbourhoods
With a mission to develop systemic solutions for climate-friendly, sustainable cities, Climate-KIC’s Smart Sustainable Districts initiative takes as its starting point the idea that meaningful change in our cities happens most readily and successfully at the neighbourhood level.
Explains project co-chair Ian Short, Chief Executive at the Institute for Sustainability, a project partner: ‘The sheer size of many cities, and the complexity of their governance, means too many parties have too much at stake in the face of change. It is at district and neighbourhood scale that we start to see cutting edge solutions that overcome these barriers.’