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Great Lakes Article:

Lake Superior City Cuts Greenhouse Gases

City to City Twinning for Climate Protection

EPA NEWS
08/21/2002

A new program by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) helps cities from different countries share expertise and resources to advance local government action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
On December 11, 2001, after a three-day conference in Heidelberg, Germany, the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) established a new program, City to City Twinning for Climate Protection. The twinning initiative, a new element of ICLEI's Cities for Climate Protection (CCP) campaign, invites local governments to establish relationships with other cities to share problem-solving strategies and transfer technologies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The program also encourages multicultural exchange and provides an opportunity for public recognition for assisting other local governments.
To facilitate effective twinning, ICLEI works with interested cities through a five-step process, including: (1) assessing the sectors and measures that are in need of assistance; (2) identifying potential twinning partners; (3) choosing the partner that best satisfies the identified needs; (4) preparing and signing a formal agreement of objectives, roles, and responsibilities; and (5) developing a workplan and timeline to meet goals.

Cities for Climate Protection Campaign

Established by ICLEI in 1993, the U.S. Cities for Climate Protection Campaign helps local governments play key roles in directly influencing activities that affect local air quality, living standards, and the global climate. The campaign is an opportunity for cities to receive guidance and resources to support programs and policies that improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and generate multiple benefits for their citizens.

Currently, some 120 U.S. cities and counties with a combined population of 44.3 million have made a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the CCP Campaign. In 2000, ICLEI estimated that the 68 cities and counties participating in the campaign at that time were eliminating 7.5 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, saving $70 million in reduced fuel and energy costs, and preventing emissions of more than 28,000 tons of criteria air pollutants per year.

Duluth and Växjö Blaze the Trail
The first cities to participate in the new twinning program are Duluth, Minnesota and Växjö, Sweden. Duluth passed a climate change resolution and joined the CCP campaign in May 2001, while Växjö has been participating in the campaign since the mid-1990s and won an award from ICLEI for its Fossil Fuel Free Växjö project. Duluth and Växjö have been involved in a Sister Cities program since 1987, which has focused on promoting cultural, educational, and economic exchanges between the two cities' citizens. Using the partnership structure already in place, Duluth and Växjö have enlisted municipal environmental officials and members of the larger community to exchange GHG emissions reductions strategies between the two cities. The cooperation does not necessarily require a great deal of funding, according to Carin Skoog, Duluth's facilitator of the program. "The most important part is learning from each other and challenging each other with new problems and information," she says.

Environmental Education
Under the twinning program, two schools dedicated to environmental education—Duluth's Stowe Elementary School, and Hovs skola in Växjö—have begun working together to establish pen pals, produce a video of students sharing information about environmental issues, and print T-shirts portraying a number of conservation efforts. "Motivating children to take an active interest in protecting their environment is the best way to ensure that habits and ideals form early and continue into the future," says Mark Winson, chief administrative officer for the City of Duluth. The cities hope that the awareness and understanding gained by the children in these two schools will spread through the community, bringing other schools into the effort.

Technology Cooperation
The twinning program also has fostered an information exchange between the two cities on climate-friendly technologies. Duluth's Western Lake Superior Sanitary District will work with the Sanitary Division of Växjö's Technical Department to develop better, environmentally safe solutions for wastewater treatment. Both waste treatment facilities are developing biogas projects and will share expertise and encouragement through site visits and other information exchanges to strengthen their plans. Additional participants in the Twinning for Climate Protection initiative could include organizations involved in public health, waste reduction, and sustainable economic development.
For more information on ICLEI programs, see www.iclei.org or call Victoria Ludwig at 510-540-8843. To learn more about the exchange between Duluth and Växjö, contact Carin Skoog at cskoog@ci.duluth.mn.us or call 218-723-3344.

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