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Swedish cities' climate contracts sets an example in the EU

By 2030, 100 cities in the EU will have become climate neutral. 23 Swedish cities are currently leading the way by signing up to national climate contracts. RISE is involved in this work on several different levels.

Most of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions occur in cities. As a result, this is also where the greatest efforts should be made when it comes to reducing emissions of CO2 and other climate-impacting gases. Within the EU, the goal is for 100 cities to be climate neutral by 2030 and for the whole of the EU to be so by 2045. Within that group there are seven of the swedish climate contracted citities involved, Gothenburg, Gävle, Helsingborg, Lund, Malmö, Stockholm och Umeå.

– The measures being implemented today are not enough for us to achieve these goals. The climate contracts create the context that allows us to gather strength and achieve the goals, says Lars Johansson, Change leader and transitional strategist at RISE and one of RISE’s representatives in Viable Cities’ programme management.

Concrete solutions will increase the pace

The climate contracts are a collaboration between different cities, authorities and Viable Cities, where everyone commits to providing tangible solutions that will increase the rate of the climate transition. The work paves the way for a faster transition in Sweden, Europe and globally. RISE is a member of the management team of Viable Cities, as well as collaborating with a number of the municipalities regarding solutions at both a strategic and an operational level.

– We have identified four areas where the development of new knowledge is of particular interest. These involve designing climate investment plans in order to be able to finance the actions that are being taken, seeing how digital tools can be used, identifying ways of engaging citizens in the climate transition, and finally looking at forms of interaction between various levels of society, such as the state, regions and municipalities, explains Lars Johansson.

The measures being implemented today are not enough for us to achieve these goals

Contracts vary from city to city

The climate contracts vary from city to city, and are based on each city’s specific conditions. Umeå, for example, has opted to include consumption-based emissions as well, which are not usually included in the reporting.

– The aim is to move towards carbon dioxide emissions of one tonne per inhabitant per year by 2050, rather than 11 tonnes which is currently the case in Sweden, says Lars Johansson.

Many projects has already been carried out. For example "Sharing cities”, where Gothenburg, Malmö, Stockholm and Umeå have collaborated on various types of sharing economy services – for example, sharing bicycles, toys and leisure equipment. However, the majority of the work on the climate contracts is still being drawn up, and will also be developed and revised over time.

– This is a long-term venture that will require enormous investments and changes. Instead of individual projects, we now need to work with portfolio strategies, where we connect various forms of funding with hundreds of different projects, both in the cities and nationally, in order to achieve the goals, says Lars Johansson.

Climate neutral cities 2030

Climate neutral cities 2030 started in 2019 with nine Swedish municipalities. As of autumn 2021, the initiative covers 23 municipalities, which together account for 40 percent of Sweden's population. They have taken it upon themselves to test new ways of working and solutions, to learn from each other and to work for the mission: to create cities that work well for the people who live in it, that are good for the citizens, businesses and society economy – and that are good for the climate.

– The idea is that these cities will act as forerunners and regional innovation hubs. In this way, more cities will be able to link up with them and collaborate, explains Lars Johansson. 

Klimatkontrakt 2030

Objective: The participating cities will be climate neutral by 2030.
Participating cities: Wave 1: Enköping, Järfälla, Gothenburg, Stockholm, Malmö, Lund, Umeå, Uppsala and Växjö. Wave 2: Borlänge, Borås, Eskilstuna, Gävle, Helsingborg, Kalmar, Karlstad, Kristianstad, Linköping, Mariestad, Nacka, Skellefteå, Örebro and Östersund.
Other participants: The Swedish Energy Agency, Vinnova, Formas, the Swedish Agency for Economical and Regional Growth, Swedish Transport Administration, The Swedish Environmental protection agency and Viable Cities.
RISE’s role: RISE sits on the management of Viable Cities and works closely with several of the participating cities regarding the transition work and a wide range of projects in this area.
Link with the EU: The Swedish climate contract is the first in Europe, and will serve as inspiration ahead of the EU’s future investment in climate-neutral cities. The conditions here are also good when it comes to applying for financial support through the EU’s Green Deal, for example.