Does your municipality have less than 25k inhabitants? Does it want to implement a climate action strategy/plan? This article is for you! 🙌 For smaller cities, knowing where to start can be challenging. This article presents you with a starter package with some of the most impactful measures for your climate action strategy. An excellent base to start right away!
🙌 Challenges of a small municipality's climate action strategy
Being a small municipality, it’s not easy taking climate action. Lack of human and financial resources, lack of data, or political commitment are frequent challenges. However, there are concrete and easy actions that you can start doing as a small municipality.
Lead by example is the first and most concrete action. This means acting on the areas where the municipality has a direct impact. Changing the old public lighting to LEDs, insulating the municipal buildings, or carpooling with colleagues will save emissions and send a message to your citizens. But make no mistake, no reasonable climate goals can be achieved by only looking at the government's operations.
When your municipality is already taking climate actions internally, the real fun begins. Our main advice? Focus on mobility and households. Emissions from households and mobility alone cause between 80% and 90% of the total emissions in small municipalities. For instance, mobility is a challenge because many inhabitants need to travel to bigger cities to work or get services.
We know that sometimes municipalities have a limited impact on households and mobility. We got your back. Below we will explore concrete examples of how small municipalities are targeting those sectors. Let's do this!
💪 Top measures for your climate action strategy
With the challenges of a small municipality in mind, we selected the most cost-efficient and mature climate measures. We used the smart calculation available in our platform, which scales an action to any municipality’s size. Curious to discover what your small municipality can start doing for each sector?
Start with measures in which the municipality has a direct impact. Nothing more simple than starting with our own house, right?
💡 Purchase green electricity. It costs zero extra euros and brings a clear message: your municipality supports renewable electricity.
🏢 Reduction of emissions in their buildings. This measure includes the energy-efficient renovation of buildings (such as insulation of the building shell and replacement of boilers), optimization of spaces and processes. Action example: Wezembeek-Oppem (14k inhabitants) monitors its energy use to take action accordingly (NL).
🚛 Reduction in emissions of a municipal fleet. Purchasing more efficient vehicles (lower eco-score) and optimizing the use of existing vehicles are concrete actions to make your transport more climate-friendly. Action example: Overijse (25k inhabitants) is investigating the purchase of electric cars for the municipal administration (NL).
🚦Reduction in municipal street lighting. Replacing inefficient lighting systems for LEDs and making smart choices are the most common actions for this measure. Action example: Bièvre (3k inhabitants) replaces public lighting for LEDs (FR).
Reducing the demand for traveling by boosting the local economy or traveling differently is the way to go, especially in small municipalities. What does that mean in practice when it comes to your climate action strategy?
🥕 Reduction of superfluous mileage traffic. This means taking care of local needs to avoid extra kilometres. Boosting the local economy is interesting for a small municipality board. Action example: Londerzeel (19k inhabitants) aims to reduce travel needs by bringing fresh produce from farmers to consumers (NL).
🚴 A modal shift to biking/walking. This measure encourages walking and biking instead of using the car. Direct benefits: low investment and promotes a healthier lifestyle. Action example: Marche-en-Famenne (17k inhabitants) offers charging points for electrical bikes (FR).
🚗 Car sharing. This measure is the most cost-efficient when it comes to money and carbon savings. This measure is done by more than 70% of FPC users. Action example: Bonheiden (15k inhabitants) actively encourages the use of carpooling (NL).
🚆 A modal shift to public transport. Special networks reaching poorly connected places can convince people to use public transport more. Worth to try in the long term! Action example: Marche-en-Famenne (17k inhabitants) supports the use of the Proxibus for making cultural events more accessible (FR).
Insulation is one of the 'must-do' measures in any climate action strategy/plan. More than 80% of the FutureproofedCities users are working on this. However, intense renovations on buildings are often not financially attractive. We help you prioritize these choices:
🏗️ Floor insulation. If the budget is limited, floor insulation alone saves the most CO2 per euro invested. Action example: Halen (10k inhabitants) works with the Dubolimburg platform, which advises associations about floor and roof insulation in households (NL).
🧱 Wall insulation. If carbon is the target, wall insulation alone saves more carbon for every household insulated. Action example: Hechtel-Eksel (12k inhabitants) offers premiums for walls, floor, and roof insulation (NL).
🏡 Roof insulation. A balanced cost vs. carbon is achieved with this measure. Interesting fact: this is the most popular measure among our users. Action example: Koekelberg (22k inhabitants) provides guidance on which home renovation can yield the most (NL).
Renewable energy production is an essential backbone of any climate action strategy. Even small municipalities can profit from energy production. Here are the most exciting options:
☀️ PV panels on households. This measure is profitable and helps to reduce emissions from the household sector further. The cost of solar energy is now among the cheapest. Action example: Machelen (16k inhabitants) organizes group purchases for its inhabitants (NL).
🌬️ Wind turbines. A small municipality may have enough space for wind energy generation. Every single wind turbine is profitable and offsets a lot of carbon emissions. If it's organized with citizen participation, it has more chances to succeed. Action example: citizen participation in small and big municipalities is possible in the Brugge area (NL).
⚡ PV panels in municipal buildings with energy cooperatives. Democratizing the access to renewable energy production is possible via energy cooperatives. Action example: Bonheiden (15k inhabitants) opens municipal buildings’ roofs to citizen cooperatives (NL).
🙌 Adaptation measures across all sectors
Adapting your municipality to unavoidable climate change is also essential. As we explained in our previous article, adaptation depends on a specific location and context. Our advice for small municipalities? Focus on preventing erosion, preparing for extreme risks, and helping biodiversity adapt.
- Emergency plans in case of extreme events. This measure implies that your municipality has an idea of the most vulnerable areas in case of floods, extreme heat, etc. Related project: retreat from high-risk areas.
- Ecological corridors. This measure will ensure that the biodiversity in your region will have a lift. Planting trees to connect forest areas is a great action. Action example: Bonheiden (15k inhabitants) organizes a group purchase of trees (NL).
- Green edges against soil erosion. Small strips of vegetation between agricultural fields can help reduce erosion. Related action: the Gulp Valley project carried out in Belgium (NL).
📖 Critical learnings for small municipalities
🎯 The size of your municipality shouldn’t limit your climate action strategy. Prioritizing and focusing on mature and cost-effective measures is important when resources are strongly constrained. Making housing more energy-efficient and mobility more sustainable is the right approach!
🤝 Unity makes strength (as the Belgian motto says). Joining forces with other small municipalities and sharing best practices can make the difference. For instance, the intercommunal figure plays a vital role in supporting small municipalities. In FutureproofedCities, you can learn and share best practices with other peers.
ℹ️ Asking for help is not a signal of weakness, but will. Your regional governments might have tools and platforms to help you succeed in your climate plans (such as FutureproofedCities). Remember, you're not alone in your climate action strategy!
☀️FutureproofedCities makes it easy to prioritize, focus, and keep track of concrete climate measures. All the measures mentioned above are available in the standard list of FutureproofedCities. Go from zero to a climate plan in a blink with inspiration from our starter pack for small municipalities. By adding those measures to your climate action strategy and setting very ambitious targets, your municipality can reach the goal of the Covenant of Mayors (-40% by 2030). Tip: We advise you first to investigate if there might be other specific measures for your municipality to take.
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