Wrocław with a clear vision toward climate change mitigation

A conference highlighting the plethora of environmental activities focusing on climate change mitigation and low emission reduction in the City of Wroclaw, Poland, took place last week.

During this event, the launch of much needed expert cooperation was announced in which Climate-KIC representatives play a key role in Polish law advancement.

“Polish cities are awaiting legislative changes to be able to effectively fight for clean air and environment,” said Rafal Dutkiewicz, Mayor of Wroclaw – Poland’s fourth-largest city, during a press conference last Thursday. The conference centered around the presentation of a clear vision for the city’s future as it relates to the environment and the quality of life of its residents.

In addition to ongoing initiatives aiming at the reduction of low emission, the Mayor singled-out the creation of an expert group which will prepare a proposal for a set of changes to existing laws dealing with sustainable development. These may  focus on areas such as transport, buildings or green procurement.

“It would be a sin not to use the considerable intellectual potential created by the European Union through its Climate Knowledge and Innovation Community here in Wroclaw,” said Dutkiewicz, “the changes proposed by this team of independent experts respond to a clear goal of changing Poland’s environment.” He added that they will also help the implementation of good practices locally.

As Cezary Lejkowski, Climate-KIC’s steering committee member and head of Climate and Energy Department at the Wroclaw Research Centre EIT+, states, the cooperation between the City of Wroclaw, Climate-KIC and others such as the Carbon Disclosure Project will yield concrete results. Lejkowski is one of the named experts. A number of them are discussed already and include, among others, the full deduction of VAT for electrical vehicles, an increased amount for hybrid ones, the preparation of guidelines for building renovations significantly limiting their energy consumption. “We want to propose green procurement as well,” added Joanna Wis, a director at the Carbon Disclosure Project, as she pointed to proven solutions in Vienna and showed how they can enforce green actions.

The expert group will have an open character and anyone with an idea how to alter the legal system for positive climate changes can share their view. Residents of Wroclaw are regularly encouraged to get involved through stakeholder participation. In the near future they will be able to comment on the low emission economy plan for example.

All of these activities are gaining momentum right now as the urgency for climate change adaptation is coming to the forefront. Four years of Climate-KIC’s presence in Wroclaw allowed municipal employees to profit from various of our projects. Through such participation, they furthered their knowledge to now be able to precisely identify the issues facing Wroclaw and the region.

At the end of the conference, the Mayor reviewed various actions the city has taken to protect the environment during the last few years and will undertake in the near future. He talked about the KAWKA program  which helps residents change their coal burning heating units to more ecological ones. Between 2008-2015 over 700 of those were replaced. Moreover, this year alone 23 apartment houses belonging to the city will be thermo-modernised with new heating systems installed. The city will also build eight additional park-and-rides. To increase knowledge and better assess the scale of local challenges, five new air and ten new noise monitoring stations will be set up. Data collected from those will be publicly accessible for everyone to see as well as investigate if and how the levels are changing.