Climate Emergency in Constance

Climate emergency in Constance – A year in review

On 2 May 2019, Constance was the first city in Germany to declare climate emergency, thus triggering a real climate emergency movement in the country. The city council unanimously passed the decision to declare a climate emergency. The goals were set, the intentions were clear. Already in July 2019, only two months later, immediate measures were initiated with a second resolution in the municipal council.

Constance has committed itself to immediately reviewing all decisions of the municipal council with regard to their impact on the climate. A climate relevance query has been developed. Since then, applicants must state in every draft resolution whether their project will have positive, negative or no impacts on the climate. In the case of negative impacts, the decision must be discussed by the city council and alternative options for action or alternate climate-friendly solutions must be presented. In addition to the climate relevance survey, Constance has also initiated further specific measures. For example, new houses may only be built with solar roofs and municipal buildings are being renovated in an energy-efficient way. Energy concepts are being developed for new construction areas with the aim of achieving a sustainable energy supply. The KfW55 standard has been set as a minimum requirement and locally available renewable energies are to be used as far as possible. Citizens are encouraged to avoid using their cars as often as possible and instead take advantage of sustainable mobility options such as cycling or public transport. The share of car use in the distances travelled by Constance residents is only 25%, and a further reduction is planned through the implementation of action programmes promting cycling and walking. 

Constance has been in a climate emergency for a year now and is still convinced that the decision was a good one. The climate emergency has, for example, created new jobs, such as in the areas of urban transport and building construction. This is intended to strengthen climate action in all disciplines. The challenge now is to implement climate protection in an interdisciplinary way. Above all, municipal processes must be changed. "Local administration must be committed to a common climate protection goal," emphasises Lorenz Heublein, Climate Protection Coordinator of the City of Constance. Climate action must be thought of on a cross-project basis and measures should be planned and implemented beyond administrative units. The administrative structures must be in line with the requirements of the climate crisis in order to achieve climate action goals and cope with the climate emergency.

The climate emergency has also ensured a higher awareness of the issue across the city. "Since we declared a climate emergency last year, climate protection has become much more present – it is now coming up in every municipal council meeting and is being dealt with in the administration within the framework of a cross-departmental task force, which also includes our municipal utilities, for example," comments Lorenz Heublein. The increased awareness of climate action is an important aspect and also shows the extent to which the declaration of a climate emergency can have a lasting effect: Climate action is becoming an integral part of the everyday life of the municipal administration.

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written June 2020

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