Rennes storytelling: it's all about partnerships around climate and energy

By Béatrice Karas on 5 April 2018

The City of Rennes and Rennes Metropolitan Area have, for several decades, been involved in developing an ambitious energy and climate policy aimed at reducing CO2 emissions, improving energy performance in buildings, raising public awareness and developing soft modes of transport like cycling and walking.

Rennes Metropolitan Area just released its new Climate Plan. An area of strong population growth, with a reputation for its quality of life and sustained economic vitality, the area is meeting the energy transition challenge with the collective support of all the local stakeholders.

Daniel Guillotin and Olivier Dehaese during the Mayors’ session at Energy Cities 2017 Conference in Stuttgart

An interview with two councillors from Rennes City and Rennes Metropolitan Area

Olivier Dehaese
Vice-President of Rennes Metropolitain area in charge of the Energy, Climate and Territory Plan

What are the directions of the brand new Climate Plan released by Rennes Metropolitan Area?

The French Energy Transition Act for green growth and related decrees lay down fairly strict conditions in terms of the content of Local Energy, Climate & Air Plans (PCAET). I would say that the two main innovations compared to first generation climate plans are the need to tackle air quality – which we have done, of course - and the local nature of PCAETs. This is what we have been trying to do at Rennes Métropole.

How do you involve civil society and the local community?

To prepare the Climate and Energy Action Plan for Rennes Metropolitan Area a steering committee gathering all the local stakeholders (councils of the metropolitan area, chambers of commerce and agriculture, social landlords, energy suppliers, associations, etc.) met on several occasions. All were invited to contribute to improving the action plan so as to make it truly inspirational for everyone.

We also sought the advice and contribution of the Metropolitan development board, which, by its composition, is there to influence the whole area and facilitate the transmission of political objectives to citizens. This is indispensable to help each citizen adopt new, greener practices.

What partnerships can reinforce the political action of a metropolitan area like Rennes?

Rather than answering in general terms, I would rather give two concrete examples.

In 2009-2010, over 30 municipalities from the metropolitan area signed the Covenant of Mayors. Over time and with the change of the municipal teams following the 2014 elections, the process lost momentum to the great regret of some elected members. The climate plan preparation phase was an opportunity to revitalise it. A group of volunteer municipalities, with support from the energy and environmental transition department and the Pays de Rennes’ local energy and climate agency (LECA) worked on putting together a catalogue of measures. This catalogue was presented to the 43 municipalities of the metropolitan area as a source of inspiration from which they can pick simple or more complex methods and ideas to design their own action plans. Drawn up as closely as possible to citizens, they supplement the metropolitan action plan and have revived the energy transition momentum. This partnership between the metropolitan area and its municipalities is essential to encourage each citizen to get involved to the best of their abilities but always in a very practical way.

The City of Rennes and Rennes Metropolitain Area are both engaged in EU-funded projects and initiatives, like the Covenant of Mayors, ENGAGE and Display. What would your message be to the European Union?

The European Union has made international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and Rennes Métropole, like any local authority, is ready to do more. But in a context of permanent budgetary restrictions, this ambition is not always easy to carry through. So what I would like to say to the European Union is: maintain the financial effort not only to support necessary investments, but also to ensure that the energy transition leaves no citizens behind.

Read the full interview by Olivier Dehaese on our Blog

Daniel Guillotin
Local councillor at City of Rennes, in charge of urban ecology and energy transition

What initiative(s) taken by the City of Rennes to tackle energy and climate issues are you proud of and could inspire other French or European cities?

In 2010, the City of Rennes committed itself to a Local Energy and Climate Plan with the Cit’ergie label]. Since then, the Energy Transition Act for green growth has transferred responsibility of reviewing this plan to EPCIs (public establishments for intermunicipal cooperation), in our case Rennes Metropolitan Area, to apply the national commitments locally (my colleague Olivier Dehaese will elaborate on this later on). Rennes Métropole, as with the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, invited each municipality to develop a voluntary action plan.

For the City of Rennes, this action plan follows a purposeful path which forms part of RENNES 2030, a post-carbon city.

But above all, the city council has designed these actions to ensure that the energy and ecological transition will not create new inequalities.

We embarked on this path or trajectory several years ago. It is part of the city’s DNA. In 2009, an energy conservation fund was set up at the same time as we signed the Covenant of Mayors and this fund is now allocated 3 million euros per year. Since 2009, close to 21 million euros has been invested in retrofitting municipal buildings, in the car fleet and public lighting, in connecting buildings to district heating networks and in developing RES.

This has enabled us to reduce our energy use by 13% and our energy bill by 13.5%, thus saving between 1.5 and 2 million euros per year.
As regards CO2 emissions from municipal buildings, 3,823 tonnes have been saved since 2009, the equivalent of travelling 266 times around the Earth.

Lastly, do you have a tip for those who will be attending our conference in Rennes in two weeks’ time: what is your favourite place in Rennes? Where must participants be sure to go?

The historical centre, of course, with its half-timbered, wood-framed houses, its history and narrow streets like rue du Chapitre, rue Saint Sauveur, rue Saint Michel. A good way to discover Rennes is also to wander along the Vilaine river on quai Saint Cyr, and then there are the Odorico mosaics.

From the Couvent des Jacobins, you can go up rue Saint Melaine and discover the Thabor Park where the Mythos festival has set up camp until 22nd April.

Meet and listen to our interviewees at our #rennes2018 conference during the Thursday April 19th morning session 9h30-10:30:

©photo : Max Kovalenko, R.Volante, C.Simonato

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Events to come
EU Sustainable Energy Week
From 17 to 21 June

Covenant of Mayors training on project financing
Monday 17 June

Capacity-building workshop - Providing energy retrofit packages to private homeowners – business models and project implementation
Wednesday 19 June

10 years of ELENA - Supporting investments in energy efficiency and sustainable transport
Thursday 20 June 15:30-18:30

Designing smart and efficient energy policies with citizens
Friday 21 June 13:30-16:30

Rénovation énergétique des bâtiments et ensembles d’immeubles - Voyage d’étude, région de Lille
From 25 to 26 June

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