Krakow: transforming the city towards climate neutrality

Poland’s former capital and one of its oldest cities, Krakow, is embarking on a transformative journey towards fast decarbonisation.

The city is taking part in EIT Climate-KIC’s Deep Demonstration of Healthy, Clean Cities, and has set ambitious goals to become carbon neutral and inclusive. The past year has seen a major breakthrough in the city council’s approach from siloed to systems thinking, leading to a series of experiments developed to bring the city closer to carbon neutrality.

The Clean Air Programme has given Krakow an appetite for greater change. In 2019, EIT Climate-KIC brought together a diverse group of local stakeholders, led by Andrzej Łazęcki, Deputy Director of Municipal Services Department and an engineer with over 30 years of experience. The group also included officials such as Andrzej Kulig, the First Deputy Mayor.

One of the first steps Krakow took was to build a business case for decarbonisation, using the scenario analysis model offered by EIT Climate-KIC partner Material Economics. The local team worked closely together to collect and analyse data to identify the most effective ways to achieve environmental impact in a financially and socially sustainable way at a city-wide level. The analysis revealed that Krakow emits an estimated 5.5 million tons of carbon dioxide each year from transport, buildings, heating and electricity.

The emerging portfolio of experiments aims to enable rapid learning and create the opportunity to scale the actions that will enable Krakow to achieve its net zero target by 2030.

The portfolio is characterised by themes that reflect critical ingredients for developing new transformation pathways for the city. These themes, which derive directly from the city’s barriers and challenges, include citizen engagement, clearer and more holistic approaches to internal municipal governance and organisation, accelerating action in response to Covid-19, and a positive decarbonisation narrative for future scaling and support. Krakow has also set a goal to increase the amount of green space in the city. The city government will take a leading role in developing and implementing the portfolio of experiments.

Another example of experimentation in Krakow focuses on mobility and supports a city-wide shift to public transport, walking and cycling. The idea of developing a Climate Quarter within Krakow’s second ring road in the city centre could offer potential for decarbonising mobility. Behavioural changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and the focus on cycling as part of the national recovery plan also offer the opportunity to accelerate this change. The Climate Quarter and improved cross-district bike routes will serve as a testing ground for this experiment.


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