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How Mannheim is harnessing social innovation to master the energy transition

Characterised by its proximity to two rivers, the Rhine and the Neckar, as well as its heavy industry, the City of Mannheim in south-western Germany faces an urgent climate challenge. The city has committed to becoming climate neutral by 2050 and is looking into whether this goal can be achieved even sooner. The City of Mannheim is taking on this task, for example, with its Climate Action Plan 2030, climate impact adaptation measures and the provision of funding in cooperation with the Climate Action Agency. Together, they offer consultation, subsidies and a newly created City Lab where residents can get involved in the decision-making process.

Tampere: engaging housing co-ops and residents in the drive towards carbon neutrality

Tampere has always pioneered sustainable technologies in Finland and is using this experience to drive forward an ambitious programme to become carbon-neutral by 2030. Due to the high levels of heating required in this cool region, the city engages a variety of stakeholders to renovate residential buildings to improve energy efficiency, among other actions. These measures are already bearing fruit and moving the city closer to achieving its goal.

The Drechtsteden: moving away from fossil gas and involving residents in the process

The Dutch government aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 49% compared to 1990 by 2030. This includes the objective to get 1.5 million households off the natural gas grid. The responsibility for this has been allocated to the municipalities. The Drechtsteden, with just short of 300,000 residents, is a small region of seven cooperating municipalities. In order to reduce households’ dependence on fossil gas, several municipalities have begun to construct heat networks using waste incineration, geothermal and aquathermal energy.

How a rural Dutch town is working towards sustainability

The municipality of Horst aan de Maas is situated in south-eastern Netherlands, close to the German border. In 2020 it adopted a new local sustainability policy with four main goals: Horst aan de Maas aims to be a fully climate neutral, climate proof, circular and nature-friendly town by 2050. The population of about 42,000 citizens is highly involved in several sustainability projects. Local businesses and many other stakeholders are also involved. In 2019 the local endeavours were awarded with a European Green Leaf Award.