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Press release 20 January 2021 (City of Turnhout & Transition Stories )

By 2050, the City of Turnhout wants to be a climate-neutral city. But the ultimate goal is even higher: Turnhout must also simultaneously become a climate-robust city to cope with the consequences of climate change that are already proving to be irreversible, e.g. heat stress, drought and the risk of flooding due to heavier precipitation peaks. Therefore, the city government is preparing a climate plan from now on. It will be an ambitious and integrated plan in which all key climate-related issues will be examined.‘In the first place, with our climate plan we lay down the actions we will take during this term of office and we focus on where we need to be in 2030,’ says alderwoman for the Environment, Energy & Sustainability Astrid Wittebolle. ‘We have committed to this through the European Covenant of Mayors 2030, as part of the Kempen2030 initiative. But we are also already preparing the next steps. Among the 2030 actions, we are giving a look ahead to the 2050 target. We want to assure ourselves, and the people of Turnhout, that everything we do will also be useful in the long term.’

Climate planning challenges require unprecedented efforts of societal cooperation and connectedness. Stad Turnhout, as a pioneer in Kempen, is aware of this. ‘The climate plan is not separate from our other plans and projects,’ continued alderman Wittebolle. ‘We are conducting our urban policy across competences and stringing together the objectives and ambitions from our administrative agreement into a comprehensive and logically interacting whole. For instance, a valuable climate policy will go hand in hand with themes such as smooth mobility, a warm-hearted poverty policy and a healthy economic fabric. I am convinced that our climate-neutral and climate-robust endeavour is one cog in the fine mechanics of a pleasant, dynamic and beautiful city for every Turnhoutian and every visitor.’

Research consortium guides the process

Climate policy is nothing new within the Turnhout urban context. The city council already had a Climate Plan 2020. We are building on the strengths of the policy of the past ten years.Tangible results include the roll-out of a fully-fledged Turnhout cycling policy with bicycle streets, the realisation of the Stadboerderij and of the climate-robust park Heizijdse Velden and the first Turnhout heat grid at Niefhout.But we know we need to accelerate on many fronts. The next 10 years are decisive to keep our opportunities cool so that we can fulfil our ambitions by 2050. That is why our new climate plan aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to the effects of climate change and encourage the whole city to consume products and materials locally and sustainably.’

In 2020, the city council sought specialised help to help research possible climate actions and to concretely draw up the plan, together with its own departments. The assignment was awarded to a consortium led by the Turnhout-based company Transition Stories and with Kapho consulting, Witteveen and Bos, VentureLink, Culd, BBL and Els Vrints as members. The new climate plan should be ready in autumn 2021, immediately after which the first actions will be launched. Smart cooperation initiatives between the city council and Turnhout citizens, businesses and organisations will then be launched.

‘Cooperation, positive commitment and social entrepreneurship characterise the partnership and thus the preparatory process of our new climate plan,’ Alderman Wittebolle concludes. ‘We are also working hard to build good relations with Turnhout citizens, businesses and organisations, and are committed to support across political borders. After all, we only have one Turnhout, and together we are preparing it for the future.’

(source image: By Photo Dante – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, )

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