Citywide cooperation through climate protocol - from the 2016 archive
NB This article has not been updated since 2016 and context and details may have changed since then.

Uppsala, the Swedish national winner of WWF’s city challenge in 2013, is an inspiring example of how public and private decision makers can work together to secure long-term climate goals in small and medium sized cities. Through the Climate protocol, launched in 2010, 27 local organizations and businesses committed themselves to help reducing the city's total impact on the climate. This has resulted in an extensive climate strategy that puts emphasis on biogas, public transportation and the phasing out of fossil fuels from the city's building stock.



City Challenge Winner 2013

Reducing emissions together

Uppsala launched the Climate protocol in 2010, when it was signed by 16 local organizations and businesses who pledged to contribute to the city's long-term climate goals. There are currently 27 members representing one third of all employees in Uppsala, and consisting of key actors in housing, energy and transport. Each member sets their own climate and energy goals, and the group cooperates in trying to reach them, benefitting from each others experience and synergies.

The Climate protocol has already led to several new cooperative initiatives and has started to reduce emissions. During the first phase, 2010-2012, the goal was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of the group by 3.7%; the result was 4% even though turnover increased during the period. Actions taken so far include, for example, replacing old boilers with more climate efficient heating systems, switching to energy efficient lighting, replacing old cars with electric cars, and implementing green procurement through subcontractors. The Sustainability Portal, a climate accounting and decision support system which manages the energy and climate statistics for the municipality, includes statistics for Climate protocol members.

Ambitious climate action plan

In 2007, Uppsala launched The climate challenge, an action plan that aimed to position Uppsala as one of the leading climate mitigation cities in Sweden. The plan set the goal of a 30% reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2020 with a 1990 baseline. In 2011 the goal was raised to 45% by 2020, with the ultimate aim of citywide carbon neutrality by 2050. These are ambitious goals, considering that the city's emissions, after a period of decline, are now back at approximately the same levels as 1990. This is mainly due to a tremendous increase in population over the last decades while the per capita emissions of GHG have been reduced from 8,8 tons in 1990 to 6,8 tons today.

Uppsala has recently decided to prioritize emissions reductions in three areas: transports, housing and production/consumption. To reduce its own operational footprint, the city authorities have signed a deal with the national Swedish Energy Agency to increase energy efficiency 20% by 2020. It already receives its electricity exclusively from renewable sources. 

Reworking public transport

Known in Sweden as the cycling city, Uppsala already has a relatively high level of cycling, which accounts for over 25% of all trips. The city is now developing a cycling policy and continues to improve its network of cycling lanes. However, public transport only accounts for 10-15% of trips, a number the city wants to double by 2020, while reducing car trips from 40% to 30%. To achieve this goal, Uppsala has launched a number of initiatives, including carpools, and an enlarged and improved public transport system.

The city is fundamentally reworking the public transport system around a few high capacity BRT-lines with frequent departures, dedicated bus lanes, priority at traffic lights, fewer stops, integration with the cycle network and new parking facilities in the periphery. Not only does this initiative improve the appeal of public transportation but it also reduces emissions. Almost 50% of buses are run on biogas produced increasingly by food waste from the city. This number is set to increase to 100% by 2020.

Energy efficient housing

Energy efficiency in housing has already been improved over the last decade and more than 90% of heating is delivered by a citywide district heating system. The remaining oil boilers and inefficient electricity heating systems are to be phased out before 2020. The city-owned housing companies have plans for a further 20% efficiency improvement before 2020.

The new city district Östra Sala Backe has been earmarked to be the area in Uppsala most adapted to climate change, while also ensuring low emissions. The latest available technology will be used to manage energy, waste, rainwater, building technology, building materials, transport, water and drains. As one of Sweden’s most important university towns, the city in cooperation with the university runs the Uppsala Energy Initiative, which in 2009 started the Uppsala Energy House, an international meeting place and testing facility for new sustainable energy solutions. Uppsala university has cutting edge research in solar and wave energy technology and it has enabled the city to invest in cleantech innovation, creating green jobs.

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Text by: Martin Jacobson
Last edited: 2017-03-15