In 2021-2022, within the framework of the project “Implementation of the dialogue between the central executive authorities (СEA) and local government bodies (LGB) on emission reduction issues”, the NGO “Ecoclub” conducted a study “The ambition of Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans of Ukrainian communities” (the presentation of the study took place on September 28).
In planned renewable energy (RES) actions in communities, experts reviewed 75 Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAP) and 100 Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAP) developed by the communities as of July 2 and were in the public access.
Since the study includes an analysis of renewable energy actions, this allowed us to determine the total increase in renewable energy production (subject to the implementation of the measures planned in the SECAP) and the corresponding total reduction in carbon dioxide emissions due to the increase in energy from renewable sources. Similar studies have not yet been conducted in Ukraine.
Since an expert who is constantly working with SECAP cannot ignore the quality and completeness of the documents he considers, another result of this study was an overall assessment of the completeness and quality of SECAP.
In this article, we look at the best examples of SECAP and common their mistakes.
Why is it important?
As of September 2022, most of the signatories of the Covenant of Mayors have already developed Action Plans in accordance with their commitments. However, SECAP is not just a static document. This is a constantly working document that should be used both during planning actions in the field of energy efficiency and adaptation to climate change, and during development of individual projects to implement the overall strategy of the society.
According to the Covenant of Mayors’ rules, municipalities prepare monitoring reports every two years, during which changes can be made. This will improve the implementation of energy efficiency and climate change adaptation measures over the next few years.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine leads to the destruction of residential buildings and public infrastructure in the several regions. Therefore, planning preventive actions and measures to recover buildings, heating plants, and other critical infrastructure will make it possible to withstand the Russian invasion and will make the infrastructure of the city or community resistant to other threats.
Therefore, it would be appropriate in the future to include a separate section in SECAP on community resilience: risks to infrastructure associated with destruction from hostilities.
What are the SECAPs?
Unlike the SEAP (Sustainable Energy Action Plans) developed between 2013 and 2017 (mostly self-written by communities and not always aligned with the Covenant of Mayors structure), SECAP are often developed by outsource experts and consultants or with the involvement of outsource entities to perform individual work.
This approach significantly reduced the number of mistakes during preparation of documents, but lead to the standardization of SECAP, since each team has its own template for development. Individual documents today are less frequent.
After analyzing the SECAPs, both self-written and made by outsource professionals (as of 2022), we distinguish several main types in terms of structure and composition:
– Classic SECAP. Contains introduction, city or community description, energy system description, Base Emission Inventory (BEI), list of mitigation measures, assessment of climate change risks and vulnerabilities, list of adaptation measures, financing, additional information.
– SECAP as an investment plan. The structure is similar to the classic SECAP, but the description of the activities is compiled as in an investment plan, with a detailed description, illustrations, and an abundance of technical and economic indicators. According to the Covenant of Mayors SECAP methodology, such a plan is redundant, but useful for project preparation and fundraising.
– SECAP without climate change adaptation analysis. There are three such documents, all of which were written by the communities themselves.
– Descriptive SECAP. Contains a description of society, a description of the energy system, BEI. The action plan and assessment of risks, vulnerabilities of climate change are descriptive. This document contains a minimum of information about projects.
– SECAP “just for record”. Small volume of the document – up to 30 pages, in the Mitigation Action Plans only the names of measures and their cost are indicated, for adaptation measures there are several paragraphs of a text there.
By the way, such a typification was given during the webinars “Covenant of Mayors – East”.
Best of the best
Within the scope of this article, it is not possible to mention all the quality SECAP, as there are indeed many of them. Their authors approached the writing of documents seriously and did a lot of preparatory work.
Of course, each document contains its own shortcomings, especially if we evaluate the text in terms of modern experience and knowledge, improved requirements for the content and structure of SECAP. Thanks to the work of Covenant of Mayors East experts, in recent years, the requirements for the content and structure of the document have become more known to cities and communities, so they are taken into account in the new SECAP. Changes to documents written in previous years are usually not made.
There are the seven SECAP cities among the best documents studied.
The SECAP of Bakhmut amalgamated territorial community was developed in 2021. The document in terms of composition and content belongs to the classic SECAP.
Advantages: The document provides a description of the community and its energy infrastructure, an interesting and meaningful description of the potential of renewable and non-conventional energy sources (the term “alternative” is used in Ukrainian legislation). The structure of the list of mitigation measures is based on the Covenant of Mayors’ methodology. An assessment of risks and vulnerabilities in relation to climate change was carried out (indicators on climate threats are given as a good indicator). A list of the main measures for adaptation to climate change has been compiled along with assessment of the cost of implementation, which is rare for Ukrainian SEAPs.
Disadventages: Lack of long-term planning, and any information on energy poverty eradication. Compared to other SECAP, there are fewer measures to increase renewable energy production. RES activities are proposed only for the “Municipal buildings, equipment/structures” sector.
The SECAP of the Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi city was developed in 2017. According to the description of the measures, the document resembles an investment plan. With a detailed mitigation plan, this SECAP is regarded as one of the best. However, the document has many shortcomings.
Advantages: The document is developed according to the structure recommended by the Covenant of Mayors. Survey was made to describe the city, its energy and utility infrastructure. A well-chosen list of climate change mitigation measures. The description of the activities allows the city to easily draw up a project proposal for the further implementation of the planned activities.
Disadventages: There is no section on long-term planning, information on energy poverty eradication. There are also issues with determination of the base year.
There is no separately written base emission inventory for a specific base year. Surprisingly, the reduction in emissions in the “Transport” sector is 22% of the total reduction in carbon dioxide emissions (according to the developed document). The table of mitigation measures does not have a separate field for increasing renewable energy production. Assessment of risks and vulnerability of climate change was carried out according to the methodology of Olha Shevchenko. The description of climatic indicators is presented very briefly, there is practically no data on climate (not recommended for repetition). There is no list of adaptation measures, the document only contains general recommendations for adaptation to climate change.
The SECAP of Konotop amalgamated territorial community was self-written by community in 2021. Structurally, it is a classic SECAP.
Advantages: The data collected in the document is complete and sufficient to describe the community, its energy infrastructure (for example, energy consumption data are indicated in full from the base year to the year before writing the document). The calculation of the carbon dioxide coefficient for thermal energy, risk analysis is presented. The list of climate change mitigation measures is structured according to requirements of the Covenant of Mayors.
Climate change mitigation measures are well chosen. The effect of overcoming energy poverty is indicated in the table of mitigation measures. This is one of the first SECAP to assess risks and vulnerabilities caused by climate change. The document also contains indicators of climate hazards (but without baseline values). For the list of adaptation measures, all the necessary parameters are indicated that require the methodology of the Covenant of Mayors (sector of impact, responsible executor, deadlines, cost).
Disadvantages: There is no description of long-term goals and ways to achieve them, information on urban planning and land use. The plan contains a small number of measures for the use and development of RES. The developers called the list of climate change adaptation measures as “recommendations”.
The SECAP of Korosten amalgamated territorial community was developed in 2021. In terms of structure and content, this is a classic SECAP.
Advantages: The document contains a detailed description of the society and its energy, utilities, and transport infrastructures. A description of the renewable energy use is provided. Medium-term (up to 2030) and long-term goals (up to 2050) are defined in detail, and ways to achieve them are indicated. Provides information on engaging stakeholders. In addition to the mandatory sectors, “Agriculture, forestry, fisheries” and “Waste management” were also added to the list of sectors of the Base Emission Inventory.
The document also contains the rationale for the choice of a system for estimating carbon dioxide emissions. The calculation of the carbon dioxide coefficient for heat is indicated. A section devoted to the planning of territories and their use was added to the plan. The climate change risk and vulnerability assessment is well prepared. A list of climate change adaptation and mitigation measures has been drawn up, following the structure of the Covenant of Mayors.
A detailed description of adaptation measures is provided. For mitigation measures, the existence of the effect of adaptation and overcoming energy poverty is indicated. Conducted research on energy consumption in the residential sector in rural areas and a survey of residents regarding their assessment of climate change (the results are included in the SECAP).
Disadvantages: Lack of indicators for climate risks when assessing risks and vulnerability to climate change.
The SECAP in Novohrodivka city was developed in 2020. This SECAP belongs to the classic ones. The document was self-written by the city.
Adventages: Original design. The developers of the document in details describe the city, its energy and utility infrastructure. There is a note on the calculation of the carbon dioxide coefficient for heat. The list of climate change mitigation measures contains all the necessary information according to the methodology of the Covenant of Mayors. A list of adaptation measures has been compiled, which also includes information on investments and scope of work.
Disadventages: The authors of the document did not write the paragraph where the goals and strategies of the SEAP are described. There is no description of long-term goals and ways to achieve them. An atypical structure of the list of mitigation measures is presented (however, the necessary information is indicated). The assessment of risks and vulnerabilities of climate change was carried out according to the methodology of Olha Shevchenko, which does not meet the requirements of the Covenant of Mayors (it is not recommended to use it).
The SECAP of Lviv amalgamated territorial community was adopted in 2021. It is a classic SECAP.
Advantages: New and interesting document design (new style, simplified chart shapes, new set of colors). A list of abbreviations is given. Long-term goals (until 2050) are indicated, it is noted that climate neutrality is the goal for the Lviv city territorial community. A brief description of the potential for the use of renewable and alternative energy sources is given; substantiated data on the policy of energy poverty eradication.
A correct description of the energy, communal and transport infrastructure of the city, the climatic characteristics of the community are presented in details. In 2021, a study was conducted that, according to satellite images, showed the degree of surface heating in Lviv. The results of the study were added to the plan.
The developers have done a good job of assessing risks and vulnerabilities to climate change. The high-quality list of climate change mitigation measures is present and contains information on all the main parameters defined by the Covenant of Mayors. A list of adaptation measures has been compiled, indicating the main, necessary parameters.
Disadventages: There are no indicators for climate risks when assessing risks and vulnerability to climate change.
The SECAP of the city of Kharkiv was compiled in 2019. It belongs to the classic type.
Advantages: Stylish and original design. The developers successfully presented a description of the city and the system of production, supply, energy resources use (an interesting approach: in addition to the main description, the current situation and development directions are indicated). Among the interesting things is a large amount of additional source information explaining the calculations and diagrams included in the annexes.
Disadventages: No description of long-term goals. There is no mandatory sector “Private and commercial vehicles” in the Basic Emission Inventory. Activities in the sector “Local production of heat/cold” were referred to the end-user sector “Municipal buildings, equipment/structures” (heat supply). The risk and vulnerability assessment was carried out according to the methodology of Olha Shevchenko, which does not meet the requirements of the Covenant of Mayors (it is not recommended to use it). There is no list of adaptation measures, only recommendations are given in text form.
Why worse and what are the reasons?
In this section, we will not rank the worst SECAP. We will highlight the actions that worsen the quality of SECAP.
– They do not develop the section “Assessment of risks and vulnerabilities of climate change” and the list of adaptation measures. Now almost all the communities that are members of the Covenant of Mayors know that this section is mandatory and extremely important. Precisely because the SEAP has a section on climate change adaptation, the document has become the SECAP.
– The section “Assessment of risks and vulnerabilities on climate change” is compiled according to the methodology of Olha Shevchenko, described in the publication “Assessment of Vulnerability to Climate Change: Ukraine” (Eastern Partnership Climate Forum (EPCF) and the Working Group of Civil Society Organizations on Climate Change), 2014). This methodology was developed in 2014, even before the introduction of risk and vulnerability assessment under the Covenant of Mayors, and now is outdated.
When compiling this section, it is necessary to use the methodology of the Covenant of Mayors, focusing on the forms for entering data on the page for entering the SECAP. In this article, we have listed a few SECAP where the evaluation is well made. During your work, you can focus on the listed above examples of SECAP.
– They do not add information about long-term goals (until 2050) and ways to achieve them.
Nowadays, this clause is almost mandatory, since, starting from 2021, new members of the Agreement sign commitments until 2050 with an intermediate goal until 2030.
– They do not add one of the key sectors of the base emission inventory (BEI).
For example, the sector “Transport” is mandatory for inclusion in the BEI. It consists of three sub-sectors: “Municipal transport”, “Public transport”, “Private and commercial transport”. Therefore, all three sub-sectors should be added to the BEI.
– Planned climate change mitigation measures are not summarized in a single table. This creates difficulties for stakeholders who examine the SECAP. Consolidation of thematic information into one table will facilitate the entry of information on the Covenant of Mayors website.
– They do not include in the table or do not fill in the mandatory fields in the list of mitigation measures.
We often encounter such errors in the SEAP, but relatively rarely in the SECAP. For each adaptation measure, the following should be indicated: the name of the action, the responsible for implementation, the cost of the action (in hryvnias or euros), energy consumption reduction, increase in renewable energy production, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, implementation timeline and the effect of combating energy poverty or adapting to climate change (if there is such an effect).
– We provide recommendations for adaptation to climate change instead of a list of adaptation measures.
The list of measures for adaptation to climate change should be drawn up in a table in which the planned activities are indicated. We strongly recommend that you listen and do not name the “Recommendations” section, because in this way you do not have a list of adaptation measures, and potential investors can pay attention to this.
Recommendations for signatories of the Covenant of Mayors
– Collect and add energy consumption data to the SECAP from at least the base year up to now.
If the signatories of the Agreement do not have such an opportunity, provide data for the base year and years of monitoring. The lack of intermediate data on energy consumption makes the SECAP not convincing enough.
– Indicate the exact values of the greenhouse gas (CO₂) emission factors for the types of energy resources in a separate table when compiling the basic emission inventory.
The provision of conversion factors enhances the credibility of the SECAP, allows verification of CO₂ reduction calculations for the baseline emission inventory and planned activities.
– Add to the list of climate change mitigation measures several RES activities (three to seven) for the main end-user sectors. Before you start, read the definition of renewable energy (or renewable energy).
– Add “Stakeholder Engagement”, “Energy Poverty Overcoming”, “Spatial Planning and Use”, “Sources of Funding for Activities” to the SECAP, except for the standard ones (community description, energy balance description, goals and strategies, BEI, risk and vulnerability assessment for climate change, a list of mitigation measures and a list of climate change adaptation measures).
– Add some zest to your SECAP. Provide maps of the community/city, show where your community is strong, dream and imagine how you and the residents want the community to be. Design your own path to a successful, wealthy, attractive, energy-sustainable society.
This article was written within the framework of the project “Implementation of the dialogue between the central executive authorities (СEA) and local government bodies (LGB) on emission reduction issues”, which is carried out within the framework of the Initiative for the Development of Environmental Policy and Advocacy in Ukraine, implemented by the International Renaissance Foundation with the financial support of Sweden.
Opinions, conclusions or recommendations are those of the authors of this document and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Swedish Government. Responsibility for the content of the document is solely of the NGO “Ecoclub”.