Climate Emergency in Schwerin

Photo: Unsplash

Tackling challenges together

On 27 January 2020, Schwerin joined the climate emergency movement with its own climate emergency resolution. In so doing, the city made a clear statement in support of the further development of its municipal climate policy.

Germany's smallest federal state capital has set its sights high, but it also faces major challenges. The vote on the climate emergency resolution in the city council was close. With 22 votes in favour of the resolution, the voice of only a small majority outweighed the 19 votes against it. Financial resources are also limited. "Since 1992, Schwerin has been obliged to draw up a concept to safeguard the municipal budget due to structural deficits. This makes new voluntary services, such as the establishment of municipal support programmes for climate action almost impossible," laments Daniel Meyer-Kohlstock, Head of the Schwerin’s Immission Control and Environmental Planning Division.

The city has come up with solutions to meet these challenges. With strong organisations and an active civil society, Schwerin is successfully promoting climate action and striving for ambitious goals such as deriving 100% of its energy supply from renewable sources by 2035. The active participation of citizens in the creation of the "Klimagerechtes Schwerin" (Climate-friendly Schwerin) action plan, into which the ambitions of the climate emergency resolution are being cast, is also a tribute to this success. The plan is currently (July 2021 – June 2022) being developed and discussed in the context of five workshops involving affected stakeholders – from civil society to business and the political arena.

Since the climate emergency was declared, the city administration has also been in close exchange with local organisations. Schwerin’s own Climate Alliance (independent of the European Climate Alliance) brings together mostly private and municipal companies. Ideas and measures are developed jointly in working groups in which Schwerin city administration officials regularly participate. Regular exchange also takes place with the municipal Climate Coalition, which was founded in February 2020. "The coalition of associations is carried mostly of those active in civil society who support us in advancing projects but also in keeping an eye on the actions of local politicians and administrative officials," adds Daniel Meyer-Kohlstock.

Since the beginning of 2021, Schwerin has also been a member of Climate Alliance and uses the network’s official emissions inventory tool, the Climate Protection Planner. Two employees of the city administration have been trained to use the tool and will be able to update it independently in the future, which will lead to a decreased dependence on external assessments and thus cost savings.

With the Schwerin public utility company (Stadtwerke Schwerin) and the Schwerin public transport company, the city administration has other important local players by its side that, for a long time now, have been taking concrete steps when it comes to climate protection. Stadtwerke Schwerin has been generating part of its district heating via its own biogas plant since 2007. The commissioning of a geothermal plant, which is currently under construction, will increase the share of renewable energies in the district heating network to around 15 – 20% as of 2022. Ten photovoltaic plants also form part of an electrical generation park, run by the municipal utility and its subsidiaries. Schwerin is thus generating green electricity with a total output of some 4,547.59 kWp. While the city's tram network has been powered by green electricity for several years, the local transport authority began to also convert its entire bus fleet from diesel to electric motors in 2020.

Schwerin demonstrates that limited resources needn’t pose an obstacle to climate action. The city relies on a network of committed people and institutions to achieve its ambitious goals. Even the narrow decision in favour of the climate emergency resolution in the city council has not prevented Schwerin from imple-menting its plans so far. "It is especially those who voted against the resolution who often remind us that the proponents of the climate emergency resolution should be even more unwavering in their support for climate and environmental protection," comments Daniel Meyer-Kohlstock. The climate emergency resolu-tion has thus firmly anchored the issue of climate action in the consciousness of the entire city and is gradually having a real and noticeable effect.

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written August 2021