‘LOW-CARB’ Launch Foresees 60,000 ton CO2 Reduction by 2020

The 2017 summer solstice marked the launch of a brand project called ‘LOW-CARB’ that will co-finance sustainable urban mobility planning (SUMP) for low-carbon mobility systems in functional urban areas. Beginning June 1st, 2017 and until May 31st, 2020, eleven partners, including seven cities, will be involved in its implementation. These include Leipzig in Germany (also the project’s ‘Lead Partner’), Salzburg in Austria, Koprivnica in Croatia, Brno in the Czech Republic, Szeged in Hungary, Parma in Italy and a Commune nearby Krakow (tbc). The project is financed by Interreg Central Europe and boasts a budget of EUR 2.7m.

As the planet warms, the drive to reduce CO2 emissions has never been more urgent, with the European Union’s (EU) Transport White Paper calling for a cut in carbon emissions in transport by 60 percent by 2050. The EU’s 2014-2020 Cohesion Policy (which finances Interreg) financially supports the shift towards a low-carbon economy through its ‘thematic objective 4: Supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy.’

To realise the foreseen reduction, LOW-CARB will put public transport services in the spotlight, sponsoring innovative ‘pilot actions’ that demonstrably lower emissions. In Salzburg and Koprivnica, mobility offers such as bike sharing supported by solar-powered e-bike charging stations will be integrated into the public transport system, Leipzig will realise multimodal information services including a ‘MaaS’ or Mobility as a Service mobile app to encourage shared mobility in Leipzig.  Elsewhere, Szeged will realise a CO2 trip calculator, while Parma will push ahead with plans for multi-purpose charging infrastructure.

A hallmark of the project is its unique focus on so-called functional urban areas. According to the Interreg Central Europe Cooperation Programme brochure: European Territorial Cooperation 2014-2020 online here (zip, 8.5 MB), this is “a functional economic unit characterised by densely inhabited ‘urban cores’ and ‘hinterlands,’ whose labour market is highly integrated with the cores.” In parallel to its direct investments, LOW-CARB will realise regional strategies, actions plans and a monitoring/evaluation tool in Leipzig, Brno (Czech Republic) and Koprivnica and their hinterlands to ensure integrated coordination and institutional cooperation. It will make available its achievements via a so-called Central Europe SUMP Competence Centre too.

Speaking of the project’s intent to ensure a keen regional perspective, Ronald Juhrs, Technical Director at LOW-CARB’s lead partner organisation, Leipziger Verkehrsbetriebe (LVB) GmbH (pictured), highlighted the demand for investments on transport infrastructure in the north of the city. “The arrival of Porsche, DHL and BMW is already realising dynamic growth for Leipzig and its hinterland and public transport services must keep up, since these firms, through their own ‘LOW-CARB’ commitments, have limited the number of parking spaces offered to employees. For this reason, Stadt Leipzig and the regional travel authority, Mitteldeutscher Verkehrsverbund GmbH (MDV) are keen partners working with us toward a solution that suits all.”  For this reason, Juhrs described LOW-CARB as “a door opener in our bid to build consensus and accommodate rural areas.”

In fulfilling the Interreg programme’s ‘Taking Cooperation Forward,’ LOW-CARB will share its experiences in integrated low-carbon mobility planning with the Central Europe region through capacity building workshops as well as invite 18 ‘follower’ cities via an open call to ‘join’ the project in 2018. Those cities should be planning a sustainable urban mobility plan or SUMP for a functional urban area. Taking all these measures in combination, the project has calculated it will reduce CO2 emissions by 60,000 tons by 2020.

Project partners were hosted by Leipziger Verkehrsbetriebe in the hometown of the lead partner between June 20th and June 21st, 2017 to kick off the project, and besides running through its key outputs, enjoyed a site visit aboard the city's brand new 'XL' tram that encircled the medieval core. Further information: http://www.interreg-central.eu/Content.Node/low-carb.html N.B. For those organisations interested in applying for the next round of Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE funding, the third call will offer around EUR 60 million for new transnational cooperation ideas as of September 21st, 2017.

LOW-CARB will deliver a plethora of key outputs including sustainable urban mobility plans (SUMPs) scaled up to functional urban areas, a SUMPS competence centre and five pilots and one action plan in European cities

LOW-CARB will deliver a plethora of key outputs including sustainable urban mobility plans (SUMPs) scaled up to functional urban areas, a SUMPS competence centre and five pilots and one action plan in European cities