No more business as usual – planning a low carbon Cities & Citizens Energy Forum

4 greener ways to welcome you


2020 will be a very important year for Energy Cities: not only we are turning 30, but we are also organising the first Cities & Citizens Energy Forum on 22-24 April in our member city Heerlen (The Netherlands).

This year we decided to organise a new type of conference, one that is still about local energy, but with a stronger focus on collaboration between local authorities and civil society and the involvement of Heerlen’s citizens. In addition, we are challenging ourselves and monitoring the Forum’s environmental footprint. We will try to keep it as low as possible with the following measures.

#1: Reduce waste

  • We will not print any handouts. Most people use their phones to check the event’s programme or print it beforehand anyway.  
  • We will not have any single-use plastic: we asked our caterer not to bring any plastic cutlery or plastic bottles.
  • We will not produce gadgets for the Forum. Everyone is accustomed to receiving a little something whenever they go to an event, but we know most of those items either end up in the trash or are forgotten in a desk-drawer…And surely, you have enough water bottles and sustainable cups to carry around. Instead, you will receive a very special badge at the registration desk: it is printed on seeded paper. You will be able to grow flowers at your desk…we are committed to make your workplace greener too!

#2: Offer vegetarian food

Not everyone is vegetarian, but everyone can be for a couple of days! We will not serve any meat during the Forum…But plenty of fair trade and plant-based options will be available. We are confident the food will be good enough to keep the meat lovers happy too. (After all, if the Golden Globes can go vegan…)

#3: Offer sustainable transport options

We will provide suggestions on how to reach Heerlen by train, but we also want people to experience the city in a sustainable way. Heerlen is not very big, so you can easily move around the city centre by foot. In order to reach the locations that are further away, the City Council will make sure sustainable transport solutions are available for the participants.

#4: Compensate for the emissions…or at least part of them

We are aware that, despite our best intentions and these initiatives, the Forum will still generate a considerable amount of carbon emissions. For example, participants will need to travel to Heerlen from all over Europe and some will not be able to travel sustainably. In addition, we know that the real carbon price should be much higher than the current one: Climate Alliance Netherlands estimates that a fair price would amount to EUR 700/ ton CO2!

We will ask every participant to the Cities & Citizens Energy Forum to provide information on their trip to Heerlen and pay a symbolic 25-euro compensation-fee instead of the standard registration costs. The total amount will serve to compensate for carbon emissions by financing three local projects aimed at mobilising Heerlen’s residents around their city’s energy transition.

A Dutch experts jury will select three projects that will receive a grant of EUR 1000 each. We will announce the winners during the last day of the Forum. We hope this initiative will spur exchanges around carbon pricing during our event. We also aim to help local citizens reflect on energy issues in their city and what they can do about them.

Energy Cities has been organising its annual gatherings since 1997. Such events are special occasions for our members to meet in an informal setting and are very important for our organisation’s strategic orientation. That is why making it a virtual event will not be possible. Instead, we have been combining other meetings with our annual event, such us Energy Cities’ General Assembly, or projects’ events, to reduce the number of travels.

Have you ever been to a green event? Do you have additional suggestions on how to make international events more sustainable? Let us know!

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Publication date

January 8, 2020