Fully aware of the role it is to play in fighting climate change, the City of Geneva is taking action and encouraging the entire population to participate in the ecological transition process. While a global strategy will be adopted by the end of the year, the City’s response to the emergency is to take a series of measures which can be implemented quickly with a view to reducing its carbon footprint, fostering biodiversity and accompanying changes in our practices.
In February 2020, the City of Geneva declared a climate emergency and adopted bold objectives to limit the rise in temperature and avoid a deterioration in living conditions, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2030 and becoming carbon neutral by 2050. The City is taking immediate action by developing rapid measures to combat and adapt to climate change.
Bold but necessary measures
The Administrative Council has decided to switch to emergency mode by adopting a series of rapid measures the efficacy of which has already been proven and which, with the means currently available, will make it possible to carry out simple actions designed to reduce CO2 emissions. Some twenty measures have been selected in different domains – production and consumption, mobility, energy, planning and development, health, biodiversity – taking account of criteria such as the impact on the reduction of CO2 emissions, adaptation to the local context, cost, feasibility and compatibility with the expectations of the population. Everyone is concerned by climate change and can play their part at their own level. That is why the City has proposed measures concerning the local territory, the administration, the inhabitants and the companies operating within the municipality.
Among the measures adopted:
- Introduction of 10% biogas to heat its historic buildings and a one-degree reduction in the heating temperature of buildings belonging to the City, where appropriate
- Perpetuation and development of cycle paths
- Encouragement and enhanced awareness with regard to waste reduction and the use of reusable tableware
- Promotion of sustainable consumption among the inhabitants
- Increase in the share of vegetarian meals as well as organic, seasonal and locally-sourced products in nurseries, school canteens, museums, the restaurants owned by the City of Geneva, community centres, centres for vulnerable people and public facilities
- Creation of a catalogue of best practices for companies
- Revegetation of public areas: de-permeabilisation of the ground, increase in tree foliage and plantation of trees
- Protection and restoration of biodiversity by creating new zones where spontaneous regeneration is encouraged.
In parallel to the implementation of these immediate measures, a climate strategy founded on the objectives and strategic thrusts of the Cantonal Climate Plan is currently being developed. It is coordinated by the Delegation for Ecological Transition, comprising the entire Administrative Council. Its implementation will ensure that climate issues are firmly rooted at the heart of public services while giving impetus to collaborations between the civil society, the private sector and public institutions. It will be presented during autumn 2021.
Frédérique Perler, Co-President of the Delegation for Ecological Transition, sounds a warning: “The issue is complex, because the City wishes to maintain the development of high-quality services for the population while quickly and drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions within its territory.” Alfonso Gomez, Co-President of the Delegation for Ecological Transition, emphasises that, “The fight against climate change is one of the priorities of the legislature programme 2020-2025. We must make every effort to take quick and effective action in light of the huge challenge it represents.”
A critical situation
The City has assessed its carbon footprint using a tool developed by the company Quantis. Commissioned by the Canton of Geneva, this company has created a simplified tool which will enable the 45 municipalities of the Canton to calculate their greenhouse gas emissions simply and uniformly. The results are alarming.
The inhabitants of the City of Geneva emit 14.3 t CO2/inhabitant/year, whereas the Swiss average is 14 tonnes. The main emission sources are:
- the consumption of goods and services (food, clothes, housing, leisure activities, etc.): 38% (half of which results from food);
- the building sector (heating and construction): (33%);
- mobility: 28% (half of which comes from plane trips).
Most of the City of Geneva’s emissions are not produced within the territory but further afield, for example by exotic food products or digital equipment.
To maintain the current lifestyle of the inhabitants of Geneva, we would need the equivalent of 3 planets. Furthermore, while an average figure of +1.5°C – a limit deemed to be the tipping point by the scientific community – should not be exceeded, the temperature in Switzerland has already increased by +1.8°C. According to a study by the urban climate change research network, Geneva is one of the cities which could face the greatest temperature increases worldwide during the 2020s, with a potential increase of 2.5°C.
In addition to an increase in the number of heatwave days, the reduction in cold spells and snow cover and the melting of the glaciers, this change in temperatures causes health problems. The periods of drought have a negative impact on agriculture whereas heavy rains cause landslides, soil erosion and major damage to infrastructures.
Article modifié le 23.04.2021 à 16:39