A new phase for European project DeCarb-Pro: post-Paris results

Klimaatverbond is lead partner of European cooperation project DeCarb-Pro focusing on CO2 reduction. An interview with project manager Margo Meeuwissen on its progress.

Early March, our DeCarb-Pro team left for Paris for a partner meeting and returned after two days with positive energy. So time to discuss progress: how far advanced is this European cooperation aimed at CO2 reduction? We asked Margo Meeuwissen, project manager of DeCarb-Pro.

Can you briefly explain what DeCarb-Pro entails?

'Of course! DeCarb-Pro is an ambitious Interreg project with the main objective of encouraging CO2 reduction through forms of CO2 pricing in public procurement. At Klimaatverbond we work with 12 international partners. We focus on three core areas: strategy development, piloting and training. Recently, we met in Paris to discuss our progress and plan the next steps.'

Margo Meeuwissen

Policy officer at Klimaatverbond The Netherlands and manager of the European project DeCarb-Pro.

That sounds like a productive meeting. Can you tell a little bit more about the work carried out these first months?

'Our work on the strategy included an inventory of existing activities focused on carbon reduction and pricing among our partners. For this purpose we held in-depth interviews with partners to get a picture of the current state of play and to identify where we could help improve.'

'What we noticed is that the starting points for CO2 pricing and reduction differ quite a bit from country to country. This has to do with national regulations and local government obligations regarding CO2 reduction. The challenge lies in finding ways to bring these diverse situations and realities together in the strategies we develop.'

'In addition, we see that the conception of CO2 pricing varies quite a bit. It is an abstract policy instrument and not precisely clear to everyone. That is exactly why we zoom in on this in our training sessions.'

And what about the pilots?

'Before Paris, we had already jointly established the definition of a pilot, what a pilot can be and how progress will be tracked. Now we are at the stage where partners propose their plans. Several partners already know which pilot they want to conduct.'

Can you tell us something about the trainings you provide within the project?

'We chose to bring forward the training courses on CO2 reduction through CO2 pricing in procurement processes in our programme, because we noticed that smaller municipalities in particular benefit from this. They often run into challenges, such as monitoring their CO2 emissions. This monitoring is a first step to become aware of emissions and to take the next step towards CO2 reduction in projects and procurement processes. If CO2 emission monitoring is already perceived as a burden, then the next steps are hard to take. Our aim with these initial training sessions is to turn this challenge into an opportunity, which they can actually benefit from.'

'These initial training sessions focus first on the organisations participating in DeCarb-Pro. With the intention that they in turn pass on that knowledge to local authorities.'

'Training and communication is a focus in itself for DeCarb-Pro. For the larger municipality, the challenge is to involve internal departments. Partners working with smaller municipalities are more in search of a way to involve them in the project.'

'Training sessions still to be developed on other parts of the strategy will be widely available immediately.'

What are the next steps for DeCarb-Pro?

'In June, we will present a framework that serves as a basis for our strategies around CO2 reduction through CO2 pricing in tenders. We will test these strategies in pilots. Our partners will therefore announce this summer what they will be testing.’ And have any great insights been gained since the start of DeCarb-Pro? 'One great insight we now call the 'Kai approach', inspired by a colleague from Essen. In a place with a lot of cars, you could build a new road. But what if we think differently right from the start? So instead of more roads, we create bicycle lanes, encouraging people to cycle. Initially, this seems to make little difference on CO2 emissions within the project, but in the long run and in practice, it makes a big difference.'

How do Dutch (de)central governments, among others, benefit from all this knowledge gathered?

'In the coming years, we will organize two events to share all that we have learned. We also publish useful information online. Furthermore, we invite interested parties to contact us if they want to know more.'

I see this project moreover as a spreading inkblot. DeCarb-Pro starts with a select number of partners, but we are open to new contributors. We structure all the knowledge and experience we gain along the way in our strategy in such a way that government organisations throughout Europe can get started.'

Margo - project manager DeCarb-Pro

The partner meeting was in Paris. Did you get to see anything of this beautiful city?

'We visited the Louvre, of course. And a highlight was our visit to the beautiful Paris Town Hall. Normally not open to visitors, but thanks to Mélanie Baudin, one of our Parisian partners, possible however.'

Team DeCarb-Pro gathered in The Netherlands, Nijmegen