Innovative sustainable thinking in UBC Cities

Publication date:
October, 2008

Climate change is increasingly at the heart of energy policy and technology development. It is therefore presenting an unprecedented challenge, but also an opportunity for Baltic Sea region in terms of its capacity and interest to innovations and low carbon technology deployment.

The most urgent task is to decouple economic growth from further consumption of energy resources and greenhouse gas emissions in a way that fosters the development of a low carbon economy and diversifies the energy resources. The core attention must be given to the development of new technologies and scaling up of implementation.

New technologies require new approaches tailored to local environmental circumstances. Those are distributed power and heat generation from renewable energy sources coupled with energy efficiency at a demand-side. We need more pilot projects which test new approaches in practice and when it is proved, scaling up of technology use is important to ensure sustainability of the economy with regard to rising fossil economy risks.

We know that housing sector has the biggest energy use saving potential in the Baltic Sea Region particularly in the countries with heritage of Soviet time housing stock. The Ministry of Environment of Republic of Latvia in cooperation with local municipality have implemented pilot project to integrate most effective energy efficiency measures into renovation. This

approach proved to be successful within the context of the 2003-2005 housing renovation project “Initiative for Energy Efficiency in the Housing Sector” (implemented in co-operation with Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Protection and Nuclear Safety of Germany). The project proved that the best climate premium can be returned by complex approach to renovation, despite existing stereotypes to work with fewer measures and pick up only “low hanging fruits”. Just in short time period it turned out that those houses are winners in the race against rising energy prices.

In terms of scaling up there is a need to facilitate new partnerships in public - private domain and applied research and business. In addition designs of new financial instruments are of utmost importance. Currently, Latvia is working to elaborate a new law on public private partnership and to introduce a new financial instrument – Climate change financial instrument to implement a Green investment scheme concept under the Kyoto protocol. The aim of the instrument is to scale up climate change mitigation related projects using earmarked revenues from assigned amount unit sales.

All above mentioned projects and ideas couldn’t be effectively implemented without active involvement of local municipalities and society. Thus, to be successful and in particularly as regards sustainable future at Baltic Sea region and at the global level we need to make common cause with the same aim and understanding. I see our jointly agreed regional and international instruments as a good basis for an effective cooperation and focused work together. Climate change brings many new challenges, but I am confident that we have ability to use our human resources and partnerships to work out sustainable solutions for our region.

Raimonds Vējonis
Minister for Environment of Latvia