Ljubljana - The balance between nature and the city

Assessment of the territories’ climate action


Association Climate Chance (Climate Chance)

Since 2015, the Climate Chance Association has been involved in the mobilization in the fight against climate change. It is the only international association that proposes to bring together on an equal footing all the non-State actors recognized by the UN. In order to strengthen their action and to give credibility to the climate stabilization scenarios, the Climate Chance Association launched in 2018 a Global Observatory of Non-State Climate Action, which aims to explain the evolution of greenhouse gas emissions, by crossing national public policies, with sectoral dynamics, private actors’ strategies, local public policies, and actions undertaken by the actors of the territory. In 2019, in order to analyse the coherence of local public policies, Climat Chance proposes 13 new case studies of cities and regions. Here, the case of the Slovenian capital.

To download : climate-chance-2019.pdf (1.5 MiB)

Governance and integration of climate policies

The plan «  Ljubljana Vision 2025  » (2007), recognises the limits of the environmental offer of the city of Ljubljana and the need to interconnect the different ecosystems. This vision is implemented by the  Environmental Action Programme . (2014-2020). The City of Ljubljana received in 2016 the «  European Green Capital Award  » for its consistent performance in meeting high environmental standards, and «  Ljubljana for you  » has compiled the actions implemented for the occasion.

The City of Ljubljana is currently preparing its first Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan (SEACAP) in the framework of the Covenant of Mayors and is expected to be adopted by 2020. National legislation does not oblige Slovenian local governments to formulate climate plans - however, 36 cities are part of the Covenant of Mayors process.

Monitoring and evaluation of climate policies

In 2017 and 2018, the city experienced an overall increase in energy use, evident in all sectors, mainly due to continued economic and population growth in the wider urban area. Total energy consumption in Ljubljana increased by 1.5% in 2017, with 2.7% for energy converters, 2.6% in the industrial sector, 0.8% in the transport sector and 0.9% for other energy consumption. In the agriculture sector, which represents a minority share of energy consumption, energy consumption decreased by 2.7%.

In 2017, CO2 emissions increased accordingly, by 1.1% or about 25 tonnes compared to 2016. For 2018 the expected increase is estimated at 6.7%. CO2 emissions are mainly generated by the combustion of energy (electricity and heating represent 39.5% and transport 38.9%), accounting for more than 78% of total CO2 emissions in 2017.

With the increase in traffic, regardless of whether it is

fleet structure and emission standards, CO2 emissions continue to rise. Data on CO2 emissions from motor vehicles by fuel type (diesel/petrol) show an increase in CO2 emissions due to the increase in diesel-powered vehicles in the city.

Development - Strong interaction between built and natural environment

The natural forest covers 46% of the municipal area, so the inhabitants of Ljubljana have 70m² of green space per person (FAO, 2018). 92% of this forest is privately owned. It is therefore crucial to involve the general public in their management and protection. To this end :

Similar planning perspectives have been adopted to renovate the city’s riverbanks for pedestrians, cyclists, boat docks, and to transform industrial wastelands into green spaces. Citizens have had the opportunity to rent a garden plot on municipal land and the city has linked gardeners and private landowners (Ljubljana, 2015).

14.8 million was invested in the energy renovation of public buildings in accordance with Slovenian legislation and EU cohesion policy (EOL 1) : 48 public buildings (educational, sports, health, cultural) were renovated through 25 major building renovations (51% of investment covered by private partners, 49% by COL) and 23 minor renovations (51% investment by private partners, 49% by COL). Deep building renovations also require that 25% of the energy be from renewable sources. EOL1 allows annual energy savings of 8.245 MWh or 1 million euros, and a reduction in GHG emissions of 2,956 tonnes (about 150,000 trees or 340 hectares of forest).

Waste - A solution that is more organizational than technological

The city has profoundly changed its waste management policy in less than two decades. Starting with 100% of waste going to the waste collection centres at the beginning of 2000, 68% of waste is now recovered. Ljubljana is even the first European capital to commit itself to zero waste with the intermediate step of achieving a 75% waste sorting rate by 2025. Firstly, separate collection of paper, glass and packaging was introduced before door-to-door collection of biodegradable waste and the opening of two household waste collection centres where citizens’ cars dispose of their waste and reusable items are cleaned and resold (Guardian, 2019). The city has also reduced the frequency of residual waste collection, encouraging people to sort their waste more efficiently.

In terms of technology, in 2015, the city built Europe’s most modern plant for the treatment of residual and biological waste from the municipality : The Regional Waste Management Centre ("~RCERO") Ljubljana. The centre uses natural gas to produce its own heat and electricity. It transforms 95% of the residual waste into recyclable materials and fuels. Separately collected organic waste is turned into compost. As RCERO Ljubljana is the largest project in Slovenia, supported by the European Union through the Cohesion Fund, it prioritises good practice in terms of zero waste and reduces the quantities in the waste collection centres, thus reducing methane emissions.

Mobility - Restoring the modal balance between car, public transport and soft mobility

The first « ecological zone » in Ljubljana was established in 2007 in the old city centre. This led to the closure of a 100,000 m² area to motor vehicles, and the renovation of the main traffic axis to make it attractive for pedestrians and cyclists. The new transport regime in this area reduced black carbon levels by 58% (Ljubljana for you, 2015).

Within the European Civitas Elan project launched 10 years ago, the city of Ljubljana has established 17 measures with the objective of changing the current modal share (67% private cars, 33% public transport, 20% walking or cycling) to an equal distribution between these 3 modes of transport by 2020. The first phase focused on the introduction of efficient and user-friendly buses using hybrid gas, methane or natural gas (many old buses have been replaced by 5 hybrids and 20 CNG), followed by the extension of cycle lanes and car parks, as well as pedestrian areas. Finally, the BicikeLJ 24-hour self-service bicycle system (launched in 2011) has exceeded all expectations with more than 3.7 million trips made (ICLEI, 2017).


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