Since 2021, a broad alliance of Dresden residents has been working with the DresdenZero initiative to ensure that the city achieves climate neutrality by 2035 - much earlier than planned. In December 2022, the initiative was successful: the Dresden city council decided by a majority that DresdenZero’s public petition for a referendum was admissible. In addition, the city council itself adopted the demand of the public petition in its meeting on 15 December 2022. This avoids an expensive and personnel-intensive local referendum.
The text of the resolution reads: "The Lord Mayor is instructed to establish the goal of climate neutrality by 2035 as part of the agreed revision of the integrated energy and climate protection concept of the City of Dresden and to align the corresponding catalogue of measures with this goal". In case that this should not be possible, the city council voted to additionally develop a concept of measures that at least ensures that Dresden becomes climate-neutral by 2040 at the latest.
"We fully support the goal of the DresdenZero initiative. Climate neutrality is an urgent field of action to make cities and regions sustainable and to overcome the global socio-ecological crisis. This requires forward-looking and courageous political action as well as the participation of all stakeholders. It is therefore absolutely to be welcomed that a broad spectrum of citizens in Dresden is committed to raising the city's ambitions and accelerating the process,", says Prof. Marc Wolfram, the Director of the Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development. .
The IOER itself has been committed to more climate protection and achieving climate neutrality for several years with a comprehensive sustainability management and a variety of measures. Among other things, this allows the IOER to cover the energy needs of its building from renewable sources - thanks to a photovoltaic system on the roof as well as the purchase of certified green electricity and district heating from combined heat and power.
How municipalities, especially smaller and medium-sized cities, can achieve the goal of climate neutrality more quickly is the subject of research work at the IOER. In the TRUST project, for example, the IOER, together with the City of Görlitz and other local stakeholders, is investigating how knowledge about urban sustainability transformations can be better turned into concrete action for more climate neutrality. The pilot project in Görlitz is intended to set an example for other German and European municipalities. The project Testing the City of the Future is also about climate neutrality. Participants in the project can live and work in Görlitz for three months free of charge. During their stay, they will support Görlitz with their ideas and expertise on the path to climate neutrality and greater sustainability.
DresdenZero is one of over 70 similar initiatives nationwide that are fighting for a climate-neutral Germany by 2035 under the umbrella of the organisation GermanZero. The DresdenZero team wants to encourage other initiatives with its commitment; it says: The success of the citizens' petition shows that political expression can also succeed beyond elections and set the decisive political course. Until summer of 2022, DresdenZero had collected more than 24,000 valid signatures from supporters within one year - significantly more than would have been necessary to proceed to a public petition.
Website of the DresdenZero initiative