Three dozen Belarusian towns and cities have committed themselves to reduce harmful emissions by the year 2030. Media breakfast dedicated to the EU initiative "Covenant of Mayors — East" took place in Minsk on September 21. 5 CoM East program experts and 11 mass media representatives joined this open informal dialogue. We discussed how this initiative has been carried out in Belarus, which results it has already achieved as well as which problems faced.
Cristophe Frering, Team Leader of the Project
“Covenant of Mayors” has begun in 2008 as EU cities’ mayors initiative aimed to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by the year 2020. After its success, European Commission decided to make “Covenant of Mayors” a global initiative. EU’s initiative’s expansion began with Eastern Partnership countries in 2011. At this moment 7,600 cities and towns from all over the world joined “Covenant of Mayors”, 300 of them are from Eastern Partnership countries.
After joining, city authorities are developing Sustainable Energy & Climate Action Plans, implementing suggested measures and submitting regular reports about their implementing.
In 2016 CoM Signatories set more ambitious goals - to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide by 40% by 2030 for EU signatories as well as by 30% for CoM East signatories.”
Covenant of Mayors showed rapid growth in Belarus last year. 15 cities and regions have joined this initiative. More than an one million residents live throughout those territories. Each Belarusian region has СoM East signatories. Polack was first Belarusian city joined the initiative in 2011. Overall, there are 29 CoM East signatories across the country committed themselves to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20% by 2020 or 30% by 2030. At this moment, European Commission has already approved Sustainable Energy & Climate Action Plans of 10 cities. Now local authorities are implementing them.
Ivan Shchadranok, National Expert in Belarus
“European Union supports signatories in implementation of the activities designated in Sustainable Energy & Climate Action Plans. For example, project aimed at the modernization of the public lightning in Polatsk.
Renewable energy sources are in the spotlight in Navahrudak. Local authorities are preparing sites for wind turbines installation and then private companies are launching them there. Čavusy are not far behind - automated system for spent energy and water record is implemented there. And Braslaŭ region aims to become first in the whole Belarus with zero carbon dioxide emission (climate neutral).
Covenant’s signatories are facing with problems too. In 2016 municipalities had difficulties with Plans development, city residents' engagement as well as funding. But in 2017 local authorities’ problems became more specific. Now they are worrying about how to make parking lots, modernize boiler houses, how to organize public transport system and realize projects dedicated to heat producing from renewable energy sources.”
Alena Rakava, EU Energy and Environmental Protection Expert of the Delegation of the European Union in Belarus
One of the problems is budget funding of organizations. Let’s say that public institution reduced monthly expenses on electricity from 100 to 80 rubles. The next month they will receive 80 rubles from the budget instead of 100. But originally the initiative aimed at reinvesting of those savings for organization’s development.
Covenant of Mayors is gaining momentum in Belarus. Active participation of local authorities shows cities’ interest to improve the quality of their residents’ lives and create more clean and comfortable cities.
Covenant of Mayors East (CoM East) is the EU-funded project aimed at introducing the EU climate and energy initiative to the Eastern Partnership countries, namely Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine
CoM East supports local authorities in implementing sustainable energy policies, reducing their dependency on fossil fuels, improving the security of energy supply, and facilitates their contribution to climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Get to know more about the Initiative: http://www.covenantofmayors.eu/