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Bonn Climate Plan serves as roadmap on way to climate neutrality by 2035

Bonn aims to become climate-neutral by 2035 while meeting the Paris-compliant CO2 budget. The city has now presented a Climate Plan revealing that this is an ambitious and demanding scenario, but perfectly feasible! At a press conference on Thursday, December 1, 2022, Mayor Katja Dörner and the commissioned expert group presented the overall strategy and the planned agenda of the administration.

Since the decision to become climate neutral was taken in 2019, the city has already launched numerous climate action plans. Among the most important are a photovoltaic support scheme, the mandatory installation of solar facilities for specified new buildings, and numerous activities for a mobility turnaround. Mayor Katja Dörner explains, "These are the first important steps on the road to climate neutrality, but more needs to be done to achieve the goal. Above all, we need a systematic approach that shows us which activities offer the greatest savings potential and thus have top priority."

For this reason, the administration has commissioned an external consortium of experts and scientists (Gertec Ingenieurgesellschaft, Jung Stadtkonzepte and the Wuppertal Institute) to develop a comprehensive strategy, the "Climate Plan 2035". All departments and offices as well as municipal associated companies such as Bonnorange, Stadtwerke and VEBOWAG were involved as well.

Mayor Katja Dörner pointed out: "Climate neutrality by 2035 is possible, provided the task is tackled as a project for the entire city and society and the framework conditions are right - these are partly also set at state, federal and EU level. Large investments and efforts by the entire city society are necessary, but they will pay off in the end. After all, the Climate Plan is also a comprehensive urban development program that can make the city more socially just. In 2035, Bonn can be quieter, greener, fairer, safer, more livable."

Project manager Bernd Tenberg of the commissioned Climate Plan consortium explained: "Our analyses have shown that Bonn has a good starting position compared to other cities of comparable size to achieve climate neutrality while complying with the 1.5 degree target. This is mainly due to a favorable ratio in energy consumption with high shares in residential buildings, service and office areas and relatively few industrial shares."

Climate Plan consists of an overall strategy and a work program

The Bonn Climate Plan consists of two parts: The first part is the "Climate Neutrality Strategy" for the city as a whole. The second part is the "Climate Action Program" for the city administration for an initial period of three years. The “Climate Neutrality Strategy” shows the residual CO2 budget, the target path and the reduction potential in seven fields of action (governance, society, economy, buildings, energy, mobility, compensation). And it presents in a climate portfolio which measures need to be implemented in the city as a whole in order to achieve the common goal.

The second part of the Climate Plan, the "Climate Action Program", contains 67 concrete activities that the city administration can initiate and implement itself over the next three years. These include necessary concepts and studies, infrastructure projects as well as communication, consulting and funding offers.

According to the Climate Plan, a total of around 16 million tons of CO2 were still available to the people of Bonn as a residual budget as of 2020. Currently, around two million tons are produced in Bonn every year. In order to ensure that this budget is not used up within just a few years, the energy demand in the entire city must be approximately halved and completely covered by renewable energies in 2035. The Climate Plan makes it clear: The future will be electric. The use of electricity for heating and mobility will duplicate the electricity demand in Bonn - despite efficiency gains and strong final energy savings. A significant expansion of photovoltaics, also in the urban area of Bonn, is therefore imperative.

From the photovoltaics offensive to the neighborhood climate office

One of the most important activities under the work program of the city administration is a targeted expansion offensive, with which the photovoltaic expansion on municipal buildings is to be accelerated over the next six years. The city also wants to further improve the infrastructure for bicycle traffic in Bonn and create a continuous and safe network of bicycle paths. After all, as a space-saving, healthy and environmentally friendly means of mobility in Bonn, the bicycle has great potential to be an attractive alternative to the car for many people.

There is also great potential for reducing emissions in the renovation of residential buildings. To this end, the city wants to bring advice to where it is needed: In specially set up neighborhood offices, interested parties will be able to obtain all the necessary information on the subject of energy-efficient building modernization and exchange ideas with neighbors who are facing the same questions as they are. The city also wants to offer citizens opportunities to participate at the neighborhood level: Climate offices serve as innovation spaces in which residents can jointly shape the change on their own doorstep. Increased advisory services are also planned for the business community: The aim is to sensitize existing companies and startups based in Bonn to the issues of climate-neutral business.

Monika Hallstein, head of the Climate Neutral Bonn 2035 program office, explains: "Our work program is very concrete. As soon as we have the political decision and the corresponding financial resources are made available, we will tackle and implement the activities described. This is important, because the climate crisis will no longer tolerate any delay."

Outlook: Funding and timeline

For 2023 and 2024, the Climate Plan calls for 50 million euros to be invested in climate protection. The experts have also identified a staffing requirement of 168 full-time positions. Many tasks are already being handled in the offices. The city has identified an additional need for approximately 55 positions to implement the Climate Action Program. To this end, the administration has registered an additional six million euros in personnel costs for the 2023/2024 double budget.

The Bonn City Council will discuss the Climate Plan now presented for the first time at its meeting on December 8, 2022. This will be followed in the coming weeks by political consultation within the technical committees. The administration is aiming for a target decision on the Climate Plan in the first quarter of 2023.

Involvement of citizens

The results of the participation process "Bonn4Future - We for the Climate" will be closely interwoven with the Climate Plan 2035. Several suggestions have already been incorporated into the Climate Plan in the course of the procedure. The overall result of Bonn4Future and also the result of the associated evaluation will be taken into account in the implementation of the Climate Plan and in future participation formats.