Stuttgart taking climate emergency seriously

First German city to adopt dedicated €200m budget

While world leaders still struggle with climate inaction at COP25, Stuttgart is taking action. The city located in the South of Germany is not satisfied with declaring a climate emergency. Stuttgart is also providing concrete means that will allow significant progress during the four years to come. Last July, the Lord Mayor Kuhn proposed an additional budget and human resources dedicated to climate measures. The money comes from the 2018 surplus of the city’s climate fund.

Since Lord Mayor Fritz Kuhn (Green party) proposed a municipal climate protection action programme called “Global Climate in Need – Stuttgart Acts”, words have been followed by deeds.

When presenting the programme, Mayor Kuhn said: “ We cannot wait until 2050, we must do more now. The younger generation is right to ask for it. That is why we have put together this comprehensive package. With this action programme, the city will review what it has achieved while committing to more consistent measures.” Mayor Kuhn continues: “We, as municipalities, go forward and rely on imitators. If we want to succeed, the state and the federal government, as well as every citizen need to follow.

For this package to be implemented, the city council has freed €200m from the 2018 budget surplus. This money will be transferred into a climate protection fund that is to be set up and that will finance climate action over the coming 4 years.

In addition to 4 new employees in the energy department, a further 7 jobs will be created: those newly hired people will coordinate the implementation of the climate protection action programme within a “climate protection” unit that will be set up in the city administration for that purpose.
The administration will report on annual progress and the state-of-play in the implementation of the action programme, which covers a large range of measures and sectors.

The city will review what it has achieved while committing to more consistent measures.

Fritz Kuhn, Lord Mayor of Stuttgart

Accelerating the energy transition

The city’s efforts in the field of climate protection and energy system transformation already have had an impact: Stuttgart’s primary energy consumption has been reduced by 27% since 1990 and CO2 emissions by as much as 31%. The share of renewable energies in the city was at 18% in 2017. According to the action programme, the city should continue its efforts while aiming for new targets: Municipally-owned new buildings should be climate-neutral, meet the PlusEnergy standard, use solar energy and – if possible and depending on the number of storeys – be constructed in wood or hybrid wood. Flat roofs have to be vegetated and facades by at least 30 percent, in order to improve the urban climate. The city plans to equip all schools with photovoltaic panels by 2025.

Behaviour change will be tackled through free courses for citizens on energy savings. At the same time, infrastructure will be improved: the heating networks are to be extended or the connection to the district heating network facilitated.

Less flights, more public transport

The most innovative component of the Stuttgart’s mobility action plan concerns flight regulations: As a shareholder of the city’s airport, the municipality will work towards a flight schedule that excludes any flight to places which can be reached with by train in about two hours. The aim is to introduce a local transport levy to finance local public transport.

The plan also foresees the consistent expansion of public transport and e-mobility, a reform of the public transport tariff system, the promotion of cycling and pedestrian traffic or the further improvement of quality of life in the inner city by making it largely car-free. The city also foresees an increase in subsidies to the local tram company SSB.

Climate-proofing the city administration

The climate emergency package also stipulates that the local council climate-proofs all relevant decisions. Business trips should be made climate-neutral and the vehicle fleet will be further converted in that sense. In its canteens, the city wants to offer even more organic products as well as regional and seasonal food. In schools and kindergartens the share of locally-sourced food is meant to reach 50 percent in the next four years.

Cooling the city

The city’s adaptation to global warming will be tackled through “green infrastructure”: 1,000 additional trees and 25 km of hedges will be planted as well as 10 hectares of flowering meadows. Moreover, new wells and drinking water dispensers will be installed in public places and playgrounds. The 20 climate “hotspots” in the city centre are to be greened.

Municipal action is not enough

The city of Stuttgart calls on the Federal government to provide support to this ambitious programme, notably through a stronger support for rail vehicles and by allowing cities to introduce a local transport levy for cars.

In order to facilitate massive solar deployment, the federal government should introduce a feasible regulation for tenant electricity and make solar roofing mandatory for all new buildings. An effective climate policy also requires a nationwide speed limit of 130 km/h on motorways and the coal exit by 2030. The city of Stuttgart also considers the pricing of CO2 consumption as essential, combined with social compensation.

Only a few days ago, the Federal Council has stopped several tax changes that were planned in the most recent national Climate Protection Package, including the increase in commuter tax, the tax subsidy for building renovation and the tax reduction for train tickets in long-distance transport.