PIK hosted a workshop on how to progress climate-friendly construction

PIK hosted a workshop on how to progress climate-friendly construction

Systematic  observation of  the Jury meeting of the Viennese district of Floridsdorf in October 2023. Photo credit: © MA 20 / Fürthner

Our partner PIK hosted a three-day workshop entitled “Towards a Climate Positive Built Environment Using Bio-based and Re-used Materials“. The workshop was organised as part of a Connective Cities dialogue event and gathered 40 international participants among local government, business and civil society, including the Mayor of Potsdam, Mike Schubert, who met to exchange expertise and to discuss local project ideas on how to advance climate-friendly construction.

The LOCALISED project coordinator – Professor Jürgen Kropp (Head of the Urban Transformation Group at PIK) – highlighted the relevance of local actions, with a particular focus on the construction sector. Indeed, the building sector is responsible for a large share of emissions and has a crucial role to play in achieving international climate targets.

As the city of Potsdam, which hosted the event, is also very active in the field of timber construction, two examples has been presented during the workshop. Other German municipalities are already active in either using bio-based materials for construction and/or renovation, or developing concepts for the reuse of materials in renovation processes. The Bauhaus Earth team therefore presented their plans for an experimental pavilion made of wood and other bio-based materials to be presented in Potsdam. Instead, the international guests brought with them new perspectives and ideas from traditional buildings and the challenges they face in their own countries, as well as from community approaches and concepts that they have successfully tested.

Overall, participants shared experiences and challenges, established new collaborations and developed plans to address pressing issues through mutual learning.

The University of Twente extends its climate expertise with a focus on equity and justice aspects on international, national, and local levels

The University of Twente extends its climate expertise with a focus on equity and justice aspects on international, national, and local levels

Systematic  observation of  the Jury meeting of the Viennese district of Floridsdorf in October 2023. Photo credit: © MA 20 / Fürthner

Climate justice demonstration. CC: BlueLENS (www.blue.lens)

The University of Twente – LOCALISED partner – has recently strengthened its professional, research and practice expertise in the domain of climate change. Along with the Green Hub Twente, the platform for sustainability transformation at the UT, and the UT Climate Centre, the recent appointment of Debra Roberts as a part-time Professor at the Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) at the University of Twente clearly bolsters UT’s commitment to build capacity to and conduct research on one of the most pressing challenges of this century.

The week of the 6th of November, prof. Roberts visited her new part-time Faculty and shared her extensive knowledge and expertise with its members. She left significant statements while holding several meetings with staff members and research groups, presenting colloquiums, and responding to interviews. Prof. Roberts is an energetic supporter of equity and justice aspects. One of her remarkable quotes were “[…] You are not going to get the ambitious climate action you want or the ambitious change of in the current city circumstances without an improvement on equity and justice […]”.

‘Everything you need to know about climate change – latest findings from the IPCC’ - Debra Roberts

‘Climate Change Adaptation - GeoHero’ - Interview to Debra Roberts

Indeed, ensuring a just transition and just adaptation not only ensures protecting everyone from climate change impacts but also makes implementing our climate actions more feasible. Justice has been increasingly discussed in the realm of climate action in recent years. Several authors detected a risk of increasing existing vulnerabilities or introducing new vulnerabilities while implementing mitigation or adaptation actions[1,2]. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other well-recognised authors have identified these facts as malmitigation or maladaptation. While at the beginning of the uptake of climate actions, their outcomes were still unknown, now, decades of experience in implementing climate actions have taught us what, in theory, logical actions such as increasing taxes on local fuel could do to economically vulnerable citizens[3–7]. Obviously, communities suffering from these unintended negative effects of climate actions are not happy about this[8]. Thus, in many countries around the globe, the critique of low-carbon transitions by social groups is rising[8].

Usually, critique is grounded in the final distribution of benefits or burdens, i.e., distributional injustice, or related to attempts that harm their local identity without any previous consultation, i.e. procedural injustice[2,8–10]. Planning climate actions with social groups being part of the process – increasing procedural and recognitional justice – also increases the potential for distributional justice—hence, equitable and just climate action. While doing so, the acceptability of climate actions is likely to increase[3,11]. Moreover, the involvement of stakeholders might also increase the technical and/or economic capacity of social groups, making climate action more likely to succeed overall [12,13].

We shall be aware that justice and equity are not merely random factors we must include in our climate agenda but that they help achieve climate goals—we should make them paradigms of climate action, as Prof. Roberts remarks.

REFERENCES

[1] A.T. Amorim-Maia, I. Anguelovski, E. Chu, J. Connolly, Intersectional climate justice: A conceptual pathway for bridging adaptation planning, transformative action, and social equity, Urban Clim. 41 (2022) 101053. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.uclim.2021.101053.

[2] S. Hughes, M. Hoffmann, Just urban transitions: Toward a research agenda, Wiley Interdiscip. Rev. Clim. Chang. 11 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1002/wcc.640.

[3] P. Kashwan, Climate justice in the global North: An introduction, Case Stud. Environ. 5 (2021) 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1525/cse.2021.1125003.

[4] K. Mintz-Woo, Carbon tax ethics, Wiley Interdiscip. Rev. Clim. Chang. (2023) 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1002/wcc.858.

[5] B.K. Sovacool, Who are the victims of low-carbon transitions? Towards a political ecology of climate change mitigation, Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 73 (2021) 101916. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2021.101916.

[6] B.K. Sovacool, P. Newell, S. Carley, J. Fanzo, Equity, technological innovation and sustainable behaviour in a low-carbon future, Nat. Hum. Behav. 6 (2022) 326–337. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-021-01257-8.

[7] B.K. Sovacool, B. Linnér, M.E. Goodsite, The political economy of climate adaptation, Nat. Publ. Gr. 5 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2665.

[8] R.E. Shelton, H. Eakin, Who’s fighting for justice?: Advocacy in energy justice and just transition scholarship, Environ. Res. Lett. 17 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ac7341.

[9] P. Tschakert, M. Parsons, E. Atkins, A. Garcia, N. Godden, N. Gonda, K.P. Henrique, S. Sallu, K. Steen, G. Ziervogel, Methodological lessons for negotiating power, political capabilities, and resilience in research on climate change responses, World Dev. 167 (2023) 106247. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2023.106247.

[10] C. Godinho, What do we know about the employment impacts of climate policies? A review of the ex post literature, WIREs Clim. Chang. 13 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1002/wcc.794.

[11] K. Swanson, Equity in Urban Climate Change Adaptation Planning: A Review of Research, Urban Plan. 6 (2021) 287–297. https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v6i4.4399.

[12] K. Swanson, Centering Equity and Justice in Participatory Climate Action Planning: Guidance for Urban Governance Actors, Plan. Theory Pract. 24 (2023) 207–223. https://doi.org/10.1080/14649357.2023.2189288.

[13] A. Garvey, J.B. Norman, M. Büchs, J. Barrett, A “spatially just” transition? A critical review of regional equity in decarbonisation pathways, Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 88 (2022) 102630. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2022.102630.

Observing citizen juries in the Vienna Klimateams

Observing citizen juries in the Vienna Klimateams

Systematic  observation of  the Jury meeting of the Viennese district of Floridsdorf in October 2023. Photo credit: © MA 20 / Fürthner

Systematic observation of  the Jury meeting of the Viennese district of Floridsdorf in October 2023. Photo credit: © MA 20 / Fürthner

In the months of October and November 2023, our LOCALISED partner ÖGUT has taken part in the meetings of the recently formed citizen juries in three districts of Vienna, organized in the context of the Vienna Klimateams project.

The City of Vienna is confronting the link between the climate crisis and the issue of democratic policy making in different ways. One of them is the Vienna Klimateams project, initiated in 2022. This innovative project consists in developing a participatory budget at the district level, through which diverse groups of citizens can propose  different socially just climate measures which then get rated by experts and transformed into project proposals in a joint process of citizens and experts. In a final step, a citizen jury chosen by lottery decides on which projects will be implemented with the available budget, allowing citizens to take the future of their districts in their own hands. The Vienna Klimateams groundbreaking approach earned it recognition. The project was indeed nominated for the ÖGUT Umwelt Prize of 2022 and won the Austrian Administration Prize in the category of Participation in 2023.

Maxie Riemenschneider from ÖGUT observed the whole participatory process and in the months of October and November, carried out a systematic observation of the Jury process. She observed the group processes and interactions leading to consensual decision over the best climate projects at the district level. The systematic observation of citizen juries is crucial for LOCALISED, because from these meetings we are able to gather relevant input for the development of the Citizen Engagement Blueprint – one of the final products of the LOCALISED project, aimed at guiding policy and decision makers to engage with citizens and specifically vulnerable groups when developing climate strategies. Thus, the events organized in the context of the Vienna Klimateams represent a mutual learning experience between LOCALISED project partners, citizens, politicians and city administrations.

Observing citizens’ juries has been an incredibly inspiring experience. The diverse groups of selected citizens all demonstrated a deep sense of responsibility towards the future development of their districts and high motivation for the steps to come.”, Maxie Riemenschneider says. “We are looking forward to following and supporting the future developments of the project and putting our learnings into practice with the creation of the Citizen Engagement Blueprint!”.

Citizen Jury of Floridsdorf reaching consensus on some of the projects to be implemented, October 2023. Photo credit: © MA 20 / Fürthner

Citizen Jury of Floridsdorf reaching consensus on some of the projects to be implemented, October 2023. Photo credit: © MA 20 / Fürthner

Assessment Framework for Climate Positive Circular Communities

Assessment Framework for Climate Positive Circular Communities

Understanding the Balance Between Accuracy and Variance in Climate Transition Studies (1)

The LOCALISED partner, IREC has defined a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to assess Climate Positive Circular Communities within the ARV project framework. ARV aims to demonstrate and validate attractive, resilient, and affordable solutions that significantly speed-up deep energy renovations in four different climatic zones in Europe.

A Climate Positive Circular Community (CPCC) is an urban area, which aims to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions, enables energy flexibility, and promotes a circular economy and social sustainability. The CPCC concept focuses strongly on the interaction and integration between new and regenerated buildings, users, and energy systems, facilitated by ICT. These transformative communities stand in the intersection of technology, community engagement and circular principles to reimagine building energy consumption and energy economies. In doing so, they actively contribute to mitigation and adaptation efforts to climate change while exemplifying a blueprint for collective sustainable living.

The assessment framework for CPCC aims to provide a coherent guideline for the evaluation of urban regeneration projects targeting sustainable communities. It provides a framework for the definition of CPCCs, and describes KPIs that may be used in the evaluation of such projects. The framework will serve as a guide for key stakeholders from the demo sites and the consortium’s expert partners, during planning, design, construction, and operation of the ARV demonstration projects. It brings to the table more elements than the traditional sustainability assessment of buildings, to highlight the importance of the neighbourhood-based approach in a life cycle perspective taking into account architectural qualities and circularity aspects.

The proposed assessment framework aims to go beyond the environmental, economic, and social impact approach. A continuous testing process during the implementation of actions in the different communities across Europe (Norway, Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, and Spain) will result in a proven, validated, and consistent framework at the end of the project pursuing the harmonization and standardization at EU level. The main KPIs categories selected for the ARV assessment framework are energy, environment, circularity, economics, social, and architecture, taking into account aspects at both building and neighbourhood levels. Below we invite you to have a look at the main categories of KPIs:

More information can be found in the following link: Home · ARV (greendeal-arv.eu)

Understanding the Balance Between Accuracy and Variance in Climate Transition Studies

Understanding the Balance Between Accuracy and Variance in Climate Transition Studies

Understanding the Balance Between Accuracy and Variance in Climate Transition Studies (1)

Figure 1: Illustrating the relationship between accuracy and variance.

A common topic in goal-oriented modeling is the relationship between result accuracy and variance depicted in Figure 1. The goal of any analysis is to produce sufficiently precise results at all times. However, during development, it can occur that models are accurate only in specific circumstances or produce consistent, yet inaccurate results. For example, it might occur that a model’s results predict decarbonization actions well in urban regions but are nonsensical in rural areas. This can occur if a climate action, such as “commercial afforestation,” is insufficiently constrained. Due to this, inaccuracies, such as decarbonizing forests by planting more trees, may occur. In this case, a model would not account for variance between European regions appropriately. The opposite type of error stems from a model’s accuracy. Modeling carbon capture-oriented measures in each region may be conceptually appropriate, but its universal usage would not be an accurate prediction of decarbonization solutions, due to its cost, energy demand, and further challenges.

In LOCALISED, we aim to provide comprehensive climate transition solutions for European regions, which are both accurate and consider the local regional variances.

Evaluating climate transition pathways on a European scale provides a good testing ground for these criteria, due to the heterogeneity of regions. As outlined in Figure 2, LOCALISED uses an integrated and iterative approach to hone the accuracy and variance of our produced climate action plans. Leveraging the progress made in the Horizon 2020 EUCalculator project, machine learning techniques help extract and refine regional transition pathways. An optimization platform pairs this with the LOCALISED measure database to evaluate specific measure combinations across Europe. Each process step is refined in iterative and synchronized development stages to maintain coherence and lessen variance.

Figure 2: Graphical depiction of the relationship between LOCALISED assessment modules

Figure 2: Graphical depiction of the relationship between LOCALISED assessment modules

As the project develops, we will continue to refine our methods towards these aspects to provide actionable climate change solutions on a European scale.

Understanding structural barriers of productivity in Italy

Understanding structural barriers of productivity in Italy

Moving Forward with Consolidation, Engagement, and Dissemination

Photo: RFF-CMCC-LOCALISED Webinar

Understanding the socioeconomic drivers of decarbonization and recognizing the role of structural factors in shaping the local and regional policies can benefit policy makers, citizens, and businesses in the EU. In addition to downscaling decarbonization pathways for local entities within the EU, the LOCALISED project tries to provide a fresh perspective on how social, political, and economic mechanisms at the macro level can hinder or accelerate the adoption of such localised decarbonization pathways.

On May 8, 2023, our partner CMCC hosted a seminar to discuss the structural barriers of economic growth and productivity in Italy. The speaker was Max Krahe from the Institute for socioeconomics at the University of Duisburg-Essen and the Institute for Macro-finance at Dezernat Zukunft who presented his report on “Understanding Italy’s Stagnation”. He explained how Italy’s prolonged economic stagnation stands as a pressing concern on fiscal, national, and European fronts. To address this complex issue, it is essential to delve into a comprehensive analysis of the root causes. Therefore, the report has aimed to provide a succinct overview, comparison, and evaluation of the primary explanations underpinning Italy’s economic standstill. Beginning with a retrospective glance at Italy’s recent economic performance, it scrutinises three overarching explanatory frameworks: the “unwillingness to reform” perspective, the monetary integration viewpoint, and the firm-level considerations. None of these theories, in isolation, offer an entirely convincing rationale for Italy’s stagnation. Consequently, the discussion around these narratives amalgamates the most promising elements from each, charting a path forward.

While the report does not present specific reform recommendations, its diagnosis underscores the imperative need for any credible reform package to address the deep-seated issues responsible for Italy’s economic stagnation. This structural analysis shows that Italy’s stagnation is not caused solely by excessive austerity or an inability to depreciate one’s currency, nor by a general absence of reform efforts over the last twenty years. Simply lifting deficit or debt limits or doubling down on past reform packages appears unpromising.

Instead, the problem appears to be that Italy adopted a doubly incoherent mix of structural reforms and austerity, and then stuck to it after its ineffectiveness had become apparent. This reform mix consisted in fiscal austerity combined with generally liberalizing structural reforms. The mix proved incoherent, first, because structural reforms struggle to produce good outcomes where aggregate demand is insufficient. It also proved incoherent, second, because the various reforms pulled against each other. For example, while some labour market reforms encouraged an Anglophone model of generalist skills and high labour mobility, others aimed at the German model of facilitating investments in firm-specific skills via stability and employment protection. As a result of this double incoherence, the reforms of the last twenty years dismantled Italy’s old, worn-out growth model without establishing a new one. Besides this incoherent reform mix, three institutional features appear to be important roadblocks to investment and productivity growth: organized crime, the judicial system, and – to a lesser extent – the quality of public administration, esp. at the local level. These reduce private investment and lower the quality of public investment.