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“Bolzano, the energy source”

Helmuth Moroder

Helmuth Moroder

ASSOCIATION “Alpine Town of the Year” - Bolzano’s municipal councillor Helmuth Moroder explains how the “2009 Alpine Town of the Year” intends to achieve ITS aim OF BEING carbon-neutral by 2030.
Bolzano has just completed its year as “2009 Alpine Town of the Year”. How does it feel to be a municipal councillor of one of the first future carbon-neutral towns in the Alpine region?
Helmuth Moroder: Very satisfying. The Climate Plan was unanimously adopted by the Municipal Council on 4 March 2010. That’s an extraordinary result in itself, one I would never have dreamed of achieving. Of course it’s a long-term vision, but I’m convinced the Climate Plan is one of the most important projects the town has ever adopted in its history.

In practical terms what does the Plan actually involve?
With its natural resources such as sunshine and its rivers Bolzano has a great source of energy; but it also has huge potential for energy savings. The Plan takes account of three aspects. By renovating existing buildings with energy-saving measures the town intends to cut energy costs by EUR 23 million a year. In the transport sector the town is banking on public transport and on people getting about on foot or by bicycle. And as for renewable energy, the Plan has some ambitious targets: photovoltaic and solar systems are to be installed on the roofs of buildings, and three run-of-river hydroelectric plants are to be built on one of the town’s three rivers.

By when can it achieve its carbon-neural status?
We believe that 2030 is realistic and we’re relying on the positive response we’ve had from the local economy. Indeed, there are huge economic benefits attached to realising this objective. If we succeed in fully utilising the energy-saving potential that exists in buildings and mobility, we as a community can save a good EUR 160 million in total. It’s money that can then be invested in other areas. If for example we draw up a building rehabilitation plan, we can spend EUR 42 million a year for 20 years on energy-related rehabilitation. These funds flow into the local economy, which means contracts for businesses, tradesmen and planners among others.

Has there been much resistance this year?
No, there was no resistance. But since CO2 cuts are interesting from an economic viewpoint, the opposition has very few arguments to put forward. The Plan is also intended as an incentive message to our citizens; after all, it sets out a method that is realistic, one that can be followed without major sacrifices.

What does it mean for Bolzano to belong to an international network such as the “Alpine Town of the Year” Association?
First of all, the title itself and our commitment to the “Alpine Town of the Year” Association helped us to successfully complete the drawing-up of our Plan. Secondly, as a member of the Association, we have the possibility of sharing our experiences with other municipalities. We are all having to deal with similar problems; that means we can learn from one another and use solutions that have been tried and tested elsewhere.


Towns as a key to climate policy
As municipal councillor of Bolzano, one of the largest towns in the Alpine region, Helmuth Moroder launched the plan to achieve carbon-neutral status. Under its terms, the “2009 Alpine Town of the Year” is aiming to be carbon-neutral by 2030. The member towns of the “Alpine Town of the Year” Association founded in 1997 contribute in a major way towards the implementation of the Alpine Convention. They are increasingly aware of their responsibility towards sustainable development and climate change. CIPRA plays a key role in this respect. It provides valuable inputs such as the international climate conference “Cool Heads in the Hothouse” held in Bolzano for a sustainable approach to climate change, as set out by the cc.alps project (see page 8 of this Annual Report). CIPRA International has been running the executive office of the “Alpine Town of the Year” Association since 2003.
Source: Annual Report 2009 CIPRA International
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