Going climate neutral: where are we now?

How does Ghent intend to fulfil its ambitions to become climate neutral by 2050? Where are we now and where are we headed?

Turning Ghent into a climate neutral city, means zero net emissions of (man-made) greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO₂) and methane into the atmosphere. In addition, it's about creating a city that is able to cope with the consequences of climate change such as drought, heat and flooding. Our city must by climate-neutral by 2050, which seems far away, but is in fact just around the corner.

How Ghent intends to fulfil its climate ambitions

Numerous local residents, companies, schools, organisations and government institutions are already helping shape our climate neutral future. Ghent Climate City brings together all those who collaborate on combating climate change. This collaboration concerns large-scale industrial projects as well as small-scale start-ups and citizen initiatives. We initiate projects and provide assistance and support wherever possible.

Yet the time to act is now. If we aim to make Ghent climate neutral by 2050, we need to step up a gear. To this end, the City of Ghent has compiled the objectives and actions in a third climate plan for the period 2020-2025, in which each local resident, each company, each knowledge institution and each public organisation has an essential role to play. This joint effort (Tuupe tegoare!) is crucial to making climate neutrality a reality.

Where are we now?

Every year, the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO) provides the basic data concerning Ghent’s CO2 emissions, which is supplemented with local data sources. In the graph below, we can see that the CO2 emissions decreased significantly from 2007 to 2019. However, it is clear that the current trend is insufficient to achieve the objective of reducing CO2 by 40% in 2030.

Renewable energy on schedule

In addition to the CO2 emissions, VITO also monitors the production of renewable energy. The figures relating to renewable energy include the generation of electricity from wind turbines, solar panels and waste (biomass) incineration as well as the generation of heat from solar boilers and heat pumps. To concretise these figures, they are compared to the total energy demand of households (electricity and heating). This is called the ‘self-sufficiency rate’.

The ambition set by the previous climate plan was a self-sufficiency rate of 15 %. In 2018, the self-sufficiency rate increased significantly to 18.3 %, mainly thanks to the installation of new wind turbines in the port. There was also an increase in the number of photovoltaic solar panels (PV) and solar boilers. The preliminary data for 2019 point again to a strong growth in the photovoltaic solar panel segment. As a result, the intermediate objective has been met.