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Calculated moves: How the EU City Calculator (EUCityCalc) helps municipalities achieve their climate ambitions

As the EUCityCalc project comes to an end with a training tour of Europe, we review this powerful tool that helps city councils to visualise sustainable low-carbon transition pathways.

The goal of the EUCityCalc initiative is to support cities in developing and implementing scientifically robust, detailed, and integrated transition pathways. It is the very reason this EU-funded project, in which CMW is a partner, developed an open-source modelling webtool: the EU City Calculator provides local and municipal councils with a sectoral outlook on measures they can take to achieve their climate and energy goals. 

The EUCityCalculator already supports Riga (LV), Dijon (FR), Mantova (IT), Zdar (CZ), Palmela (PT), Sesimbra (PT), Setubal (PT), Koprivnica (HR), Varazdin (HU), and Virovitica (HR) in creating and implementing pathways, but it wants to help more cities achieve their climate ambitions. In February 2024, its learning programme was launched, an e-learning and in-person training course to empower more cities to utilise the calculator and develop their own climate neutrality pathways. Now, the in-person training caravan is touring around Europe, and the EU-level training is coming to Brussels next week. 

Many pathways

The EU City Calculator is designed to enable local councils to explore various simulated pathways towards achieving their climate and sustainability goals . The webtool allows cities to develop transition scenarios, explore cross-sectoral dynamics, and compare them in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, and cost. 

It also considers other implications, such as air pollution, circularity, and water use. It aims to support local authorities by simplifying the administrative process of designing and reporting strategies and by providing a common language that facilitates co-creation with various stakeholders. It also offers step-by-step guidance to help cities build scenarios by selecting concrete measures tailored to their specific context. Yet, it can be complex to juggle all the different elements that are to be considered when planning an urban-led transition. 

“We hope that in the following months, cities will be able to upload their own data […] it is free of charge and it can give you an interesting overview of how various sectors influence greenhouse gas emissions. This information can give good advice on how policymakers can make decisions that will decrease a city’s carbon footprint.” Elisa Parisi, technician in Municipality of Mantova.

Training roadshow

Whether you are a local policymaker, technician, consultant, or NGO, you have the opportunity to receive an introduction to the webtool and explore what could work best for your municipality. The EUCityCalc is organising training workshops in various countries  and in Brussels on 10 June. 

Workshop participants gain a deeper understanding of the EU City Calculator’s functionalities, engage in interactive demonstrations and practical exercises, learn best practices from cities that have effectively utilised the tool, and have an opportunity to meet with other professionals and experts in urban sustainability.

Co-creation in action

The pilot cities and researchers co-created EUCityCalc from the very beginning. In addition, more local authorities were trained in using the tool, benefiting from the experiences shared by their predecessors. This feedback loop is crucial for continually improving the tool to meet the needs of city-level actors better. 

The latest version of the webtool introduces several significant enhancements, allowing cities to create customised scenarios based on their data. The newly developed Data Import Hub simplifies data collection, offers step-by-step guidance for uploading data, and includes time-saving features for independent data updates. This version supports efficient data collection for optimal use of the webtool, including energy consumption, production, greenhouse emissions, and key activity data. Cities can now save transition scenarios by selecting specific measures, and any missing data can be supplemented with model-based national or relevant data. 

“This webtool is our long-term commitment to support cities in their climate strategy. We will keep enhancing it with user feedback and make sure that it stays user-friendly, transparent, and connected.” Vincent Matton, CLIMACT.

What’s next?

The EU City Calculator has more planned improvements on the horizon. These include a fully automated and simplified data integration and updating system, better connectivity with other tools and data reporting systems, the development of more default scenarios representing realistic city situations, and much more. These enhancements will provide greater autonomy and a more intuitive user experience. 

Ultimately, the EU City Calculator web tool aims to live beyond the life of the EUCityCalc project, and to remain a valuable asset for cities all around Europe at different stages of their climate strategy journey. If you wish to find out more about EUCityCalc, join us for the final conference at the end of June.

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