Four years after its launch, the European program CIVITAS selected cities 17 new projects to fight against urban traffic congestion and air pollution. Among them, six are borne by the cities of new member countries of Europe.
CIVITAS brings together a set of cities engaged in the fight against congestion and pollution linked to urban traffic. This traffic is responsible for more than 10% of all EU CO2 emissions of which 98% is 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 the passenger car in built-up areas", and "replace" with other 20 fuels% of diesel and gasoline used in the road transport sector by 2020. Clearly, fewer cars in the cities, more public transport and especially more clean fuels!
Six cities face increasing car
Nearly 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. Loyola de Palacio, vice-president of the European Commission responsible for energy and transport, welcomed the news, announcing the selection: "In these countries, municipalities are facing rapid growth in fleet and a decline in the use of public transport. I want to support local authorities in their efforts to develop and test new transition policies aimed at maintaining a high share of public transport, walking and cycling ".
If we do not yet know the nature of the 17 new cities projects (La Rochelle and Toulouse in France) which will benefit from a budget of 50 million (35% of the total funding provided by cities and partners), those selected in 2001 cities are promising and concrete, like what is put in placeà Lille Métropole.
The encouraging example of Lille
Lille, joining the program CIVITAS in 2001, wanted to continue its research to produce and use its own fuel ... clean: methane fuel, a gas resulting from the digestion of sewage sludge. This biogas, renewable and with a satisfactory environmental balance, is studied as a source of clean energy that can replace fossil fuels. To continue its pilot experiment (several buses and a production plant) carried out by 1997 on this biogas, Lille was selected in the TrendSetter program (in partnership with Graz, Munich, Stockholm and Pecs), one of the four CIVITAS programs. It led to feasibility studies to produce methane fuel from a new source, organic waste from the sorting of household waste. A new production plant is expected to be built in September 2004. Operational 2006, it will participate in the supply of methane 160 bus methane that should count the fleet of Lille metropolis by the end 2005 which represents more than a third of the fleet. The agglomeration should also equip the public services of 120 clean vehicles (gas and electric) in place of gasoline or diesel vehicles. Finally, ultimately, the city hopes from here 2010 produce enough fuel for all buses. For Sabine Germe, head of general monitoring of the Trendsetter Lille Métropole project, "The Civitas program enables cities that are doing research together to be innovative in terms of what exists and legislation, and to be complementary while delivering a common message: cities have a power of training, and can federate the actors of the change, the public sector, the private companies, the citizens and the policies ".
The CIVITAS program has implemented an evaluation program and dissemination of experiences, METEOR and created in October 2002, the CIVITAS Forum. This platform for exchange of best practices between experts and elected meets once a year in cities participating in the program. This represents 72 European cities that act for a more sustainable urban mobility.