Cities face many difficulties in their ambition to cut carbon emissions through the optimisation of heating and cooling solutions. The challenges differ depending on the processes the cities have and on what kind of solution they would like to implement. Moreover, they are often multifaceted – not only technical, but also related to policy, funding, stakeholder engagement and more.
To help cities overcome these obstacles, the Celsius Initiative is establishing groups of forerunner cities that are in similar situations and share the same type of hinders. Through collaboration and with help from carefully selected experts, based on a peer-to-peer approach, these groups will support a selected Spearhead City in the implementation of a solution that will help accelerate the transition to a sustainable energy system.
Katrina Folland, coordinator of the Celsius Initiative and process leader for the Forerunner groups, and Henrik Bristav, Celsius’ Head Expert in DHC describe their vision for the Celsius Forerunner Groups.
What can be said about the forerunner cities, what challenges do they have?
Henrik: We are in a starting phase having recently interviewed 13 cities that have the ambition to become Celsius Forerunner cities. The talks gave us valuable insight about the cities’ challenges and opportunities. The purpose is to gather cities that need support from other cities and make it easier for them to help each other. We will also provide them with support from experts that can help them overcome identified obstacles.
Katrina: What is most important for Celsius is to work based on the demand and needs expressed by the cities. Our experience in the field, in addition to the interviews we have already carried out have lead us to start with the following three thematic areas: “starting a system”, “waste heat recuperation” and “decarbonisation”.
The Forerunner groups will share experience and lessons learnt whilst Celsius staff facilitate the discussion and provide expertise based on the demands expressed by the group. Depending on the stage the cities are in and their challenges we will work with sustainable business models, financial instruments, integrated planning, policy & regulations, stakeholder and citizen engagement, and city data management. All are crosscutting subjects, applicable in any area and important for systemic change.
What is expected from the participating cities?
Henrik: There must be a commitment from the city representatives. There are many enthusiasts and they are very important for this to work, but this also has to be prioritized by the leadership of the city. We collaborate with both the municipalities and the energy companies, that are often publicly owned, and we need to get the attention of both.
Katrina: What we want from our forerunner cities is engagement, a willingness to share experience and to co-create with the other group members. It is also important to have background information and knowledge about the city, not least about their energy planning.
Is there room for more cities to become forerunners?
Katrina: Yes, there is still room! Considering how important it is to meet and get to know each other, our ambition is to get the groups collaborating via online platforms throughout the spring in preparation for the workshops that will be carried our in the frame of the Celsius Summit on June 18 in Croatia where they will be able to meet in person.
Henrik: Our goal is to get at least 30 cities engaged as Forerunners, and we need at least three cities in each group. Many cities are realizing that, in addition to the high CO2-emissions generated by fossil fuels, being dependent of natural gas could lead to security issues regarding dependency of external powers, so there are many reasons to become a Forerunner!
What are your ambitions regarding scaling and replication of the results that the forerunners will deliver?
Katrina: One of Celsius cornerstones is to work with scaling and replication. Our plan is for the coming forerunner groups to focus on replication and the conditions for this.
Henrik: The groups can help each other to avoid making the same mistakes. They will of course share success stories and give good examples, but I think the bad examples are just as important.
For more information, join us on Thursday March 26 at 10:30 for a Celsius Talk that will mark the official launch of there Forerunner Groups. Click here to register.