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 number of cities involved in the fight against congestion and pollution linked to urban traffic. This traffic is responsible for more than 10% of all CO2 emissions from the European Union of which 98% are generated by private and commercial vehicles. Insisting on a necessary "radical change based on an integrated approach" (see box), CIVITAS wants to promote "attractive solutions for the replacement of private cars in built-up areas", and "replace 20% of diesel and gasoline used in the road transport sector by 2020. "In short, fewer cars in 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 announcement of the selection: "In these countries, municipalities are confronted with the rapid and a decline in the use of public transport. I want to support local authorities in their efforts to develop and test new transitional policies to conserve a high proportion 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, entered the CIVITAS program in 2001, wished to continue researching to produce and use its own fuel ... clean: methane fuel, a gas resulting from the digestion of sludge from sewage treatment plants. This biogas, renewable and with a satisfactory environmental balance, is studied as a source of clean energy that can replace the fossil energies. To continue its pilot experiment (several buses and a production plant) conducted since 1997 on this biogas, Lille has been selected in the TrendSetter program (in partnership with Graz, Munich, Stockholm and Pecs), one of the four CIVITAS programs It has made it possible to carry out feasibility studies to produce methane fuel from a new source, the organic waste resulting from the sorting of household waste. A new production plant should be built in September 2004. Operational in 2006, it will participate in the supply of 160 buses to the 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 utilities of 120 clean vehicles (gas and electric) in place of gasoline or diesel vehicles. Finally, eventually, the city hopes from here 2010 produce enough fuel for all buses. For Sabine Germe, responsible for the general follow-up of the Trendsetter Lille Métropole project, "The Civitas program allows cities that do research together to be innovative in relation to what exists and to legislation and to be complementary while delivering a common message: cities have a driving force, and can bring together the actors of change, the public sector, private companies, citizens and politicians. "
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.