Four years after its launch, the European program CIVITAS selected 17 new city projects aimed at combating urban traffic congestion and air pollution. Among them, six are carried by cities of new member countries of Europe.
CIVITAS brings together a group of cities engaged in the fight against congestion and pollution linked to urban traffic. This traffic is responsible for more than 10% of all CO2 emissions in the European Union, 98% of which are generated by private and commercial vehicles. Insisting on a necessary "radical change based on an integrated approach", CIVITAS wants to promote "attractive solutions for replacing private cars in urban areas", and "replacing 20% of the diesel and petrol used with other fuels. in the road transport sector by 2020. ”Clearly, fewer cars in cities, more public transport and above all more clean fuels!
Six cities facing the increase in cars
Almost four years after the launch of CIVITAS and the first selection of 19 cities in 2001 (including Lille and Nantes), 17 city projects have just been selected in 2004, including six from new member countries: Estonia, Hungary, Romania , Poland and Slovenia. A news that Loyola de Palacio, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for energy and transport, welcomed when the selection was announced: “In these countries, municipalities are faced with the rapid increase in vehicle fleet and a decrease in the use of public transport. I want to support local authorities in their efforts to develop and test new transition policies aimed at retaining a high share of public transport, walking and cycling ”.
If we do not yet know the nature of the projects of the 17 new cities (including La Rochelle and Toulouse for France) which will benefit from a budget of 50 million euros (35% of the overall funding completed by the cities and partners), those of the cities selected in 2001 are promising and concrete, like what has been implemented in Lille Métropole.
The encouraging example of Lille
Lille, which entered the CIVITAS program in 2001, wanted to continue its research to produce and use its own… clean fuel: methane fuel, a gas resulting from the digestion of sludge from wastewater treatment plants. This biogas, renewable and with a satisfactory environmental record, is being studied as a clean energy source that can replace fossil fuels. To continue its pilot experience (several buses and a production plant) carried out since 1997 on this biogas, Lille has been selected in the TrendSetter program (in partnership with Graz, Munich, Stockholm and Pecs), one of the four CIVITAS programs. .It made it possible to carry out feasibility studies to produce fuel methane from a new source, organic waste from sorting household waste. A new production plant should be built in September 2004. Operational in 2006, it will help supply the 160 methane buses that the Lille metropolitan fleet should have by the end of 2005, which represents more than a third of the fleet. The agglomeration should also equip public services with 120 clean vehicles (gas and electric) instead of gasoline or diesel vehicles. Finally, over time, the city hopes by 2010 to produce enough fuel for all buses. For Sabine Germe, responsible for the general follow-up of the Trendsetter Lille Métropole project, “The Civitas program allows cities that do research together to be innovative in relation to what exists and to legislation, and to be complementary while delivering a common message: cities have a driving force, and can bring together the agents of change, the public sector, private companies, citizens and politicians ”.
The CIVITAS program set up a program for evaluating and disseminating experiences, METEOR, and in October 2002 created the Forum CIVITAS. This platform for the exchange of best practices between experts and elected officials meets once a year in the cities participating in the program. This represents 72 European cities taking action for more sustainable urban mobility.