Despite the difficult situation related to the coronavirus pandemic, the “Polish cities towards climate neutrality” workshop, organised as a part of the BEACON international project, took place in Warsaw on 7-8 October 2020. Due to concern for the safety of the participants, we ensured to respect sanitary rules and we made it possible for the representatives of the regional and national level, as well as the participants from Germany, to take part in the workshop remotely.

On the first day, the representatives of 8 local governments discussed the success factors that determined the success of energy and emission reduction investments in the cities, as well as the most important challenges related to their implementation.

After the BEACON project and the workshop concept presentation, Patrycja Płonka, a project manager at the Association of Municipalities Polish Network „Energie Cités” (PNEC), presented a short overview of the legal framework and financing sources in the context of actions regarding energy efficiency, RES and improvement of air quality, thus defining the scope of discussion. The short theoretical part was followed by the practical one.

The conclusions and the possible solutions for increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the tools and the support systems were summarized, and the most important ones were structured and prepared to be presented the next day to regional representatives: Ministry of Climate, National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management, Marshal's Office of Mazowieckie Voivodeship.

The second day of the workshop began with a speech by Silke Karcher, Head of the Department for European Climate and Energy Policy at the German Federal Ministry of the Environment (BMU), who gave an overview of current European initiatives and the priorities of the German EU Council Presidency. She emphasized the importance of local governments in implementing climate action, as well as the importance of such multi-level workshops as an opportunity to learn and exchange new ideas and good practices at different levels of governance.

Wojciech Augustowski, Head of the Department of Cities and Adaptation to Climate Change from the Department of Air Protection and Urban Policy at the Ministry of Climate and Environment presented support programs for local governments towards climate neutrality in the area of energy and improvement of air quality. The participants had an opportunity to hear more about the programs, such as “City with climate” (“Miasto z klimatem”), “Clean air” (“Czyste powietrze”), “Stop smog” (Stop Smogowi”), “House with climate” (“Dom z klimatem”) and “GreenEvo”, as well as pillars of Poland's Energy Policy until 2040 including fair transformation, zero emission energy system and improvement of air quality. The last one is planned to be achieved by developing heating system and low-emission transport, increasing energy efficiency of buildings and reducing energy poverty. By 2030, a 30% emission reduction is planned, compared to 1990. After the presentation of the Ministry, there was time to present the successful actions and ambitions of the local governments such as Bydgoszcz, Cieszyn, Jasło, Piastów, Płock, Sztum and Zamość. Representatives of these cities showed their latest achievements in the field of energy and emission reduction as well as their goals for the next 10 years.Wojciech Augustowski, naczelnik Wydziału ds. Miast i Adaptacji do Zmian Klimatu z Departamentu Ochrony Powietrza i Polityki Miejskiej w Ministerstwie Klimatu i Środowiska zaprezentował programy wsparcia samorządów lokalnych w drodze do neutralności klimatycznej w obszarze energii i poprawy jakości powietrza. Uczestnicy usłyszeli więcej na temat programów „Miasto z klimatem”, „Czyste powietrze”, „Stop Smogowi”, „Dom z klimatem” czy też „GreenEvo” oraz filarach Polityki Energetycznej Polski do 2040 r. obejmujących sprawiedliwą transformację, zeroenergetyczny system energetyczny oraz poprawę jakości powietrza. Tę ostatnią planuje się osiągnąć poprzez rozwój ciepłownictwa systemowego i transportu niskoemisyjnego, zwiększenie efektywności energetycznej budynków czy zmniejszenie ubóstwa energetycznego. Do 2030 r. planowana jest redukcja emisji o 30% w stosunku do 1990 r. Po prezentacji Ministerstwa przyszedł czas na zaprezentowanie udanych działań i ambicji samorządów lokalnych: Bydgoszczy, Cieszyna, Jasła, Piastowa, Płońska, Sztumu oraz Zamościa. Przedstawiciele tych miast pokazali, swoje najnowsze osiągnięcia w zakresie energetyki i redukcji emisji oraz cele w perspektywie najbliższych 10 lat.

The starting point for discussion in small groups was the presentation of the results of the workshop from day one. The local administration representatives stated that bureaucracy, complicated procedures, unclear or incomplete regulations, as well as failing to identify local administration’s needs – this is where most difficulties appear, which results in failing to adapt support programs to local administration’s needs and partial misallocation of funds. Budget limitations are also a common problem. According to the representatives, the best way to accelerate pro-climate actions would be to create conditions for a collaboration between neighbouring municipalities, to support the replication of the best practices, to expand knowledge and competences of local government employees in the area of energy and climate policy and investment realization, as well as to raise ecological awareness of citizens. The participants of the workshop on day one also indicated the important role of defining needs in detail of local projects implementation with their justification, altogether with the great importance of preparing a long-term strategy defining the framework of the implemented investments.

Following that, the participants discussed the difficulties and missing mechanisms in the available support programs as well as suggestions for new ideas and solutions in the areas: 1) producing energy from renewable sources, 2) improving energy efficiency and 3) improving air quality. Following this discussion, the time came for summarizing the conclusions and the recommendations regarding each thematic area. The participants dealing with RES stated that the development of this sector is often limited by law, and the lack of long-term legislative perspective undermines the credibility of local governments for residents and deters from investing in RES. The groups discussing the improvement of energy efficiency recognized the lack of rules regarding ownership rights, e.g. lighting infrastructure in cities, as well as a need to employ experienced specialists in the field of energy and to enhance a collaboration between municipalities. At the table, at which the group discussing actions in the area of improvement of air quality was sitting, the participants concluded that it is necessary to establish guidelines at the national level, as well as to enhance a collaboration between municipalities and marshal’s offices. The actions should include not only the reduction of heating with solid fuels, but also the development of low-emission transport. All the local government representatives agreed that hiring eco-consultants would be a great solution: they could inform and educate citizens about the possible actions.

We hope that the discussion between local governments and the representatives of the national and regional level will generate tangible benefits for both sides and it will contribute to bringing even more expected results of their future collaboration!



Day 1

  1. Overview of the legal framework and financing sources, Patrycja Płonka, PNEC

Day 2

  1. A few words about the BEACON project, Iwona Korohoda, PNEC
  2. Introducing BEACON & Vertical, Arnold Bruhin, Guidehouse
  3. Supporting local governments towards climate neutrality, Wojciech Augustowski, Ministry of Climate
  4. Cities’ actions towards climate protection