Climate change is already a reality worldwide, and in Europe, manifesting itself in extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts, heavy rainfall, floods or landslides. It also contributes rising sea levels, ocean acidification and biodiversity loss.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has determined that it is fundamental to achieve carbon neutrality by the mid-21st century, particularly by keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial times. 
The world is changing, and we must evolve with it, doing everything we can to limit our carbon footprint both on a systemic and individual level, making more responsible choices for a better and more sustainable future.
What is Carbon Neutrality and How to Achieve It?
Carbon neutrality occurs when carbon dioxide emissions amount to zero. The term is also often used to describe all global greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) being zero, in other words - climate neutrality. The other greenhouse gases, besides the most prominent carbon dioxide, are: methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), ozone, water vapor and chlorofluorocarbons.
Carbon neutrality takes place then when there are either no carbon / GHG emissions anymore or when the amount of carbon (or GHGs) emitted is equal to the emissions being removed from the atmosphere and absorbed by carbon sinks*. The second scenario describes in fact a situation of net zero emissions. 
In practice, climate change can be stopped or limited globally by radically reducing or eliminating global greenhouse gases’ emissions, and / or offsetting our emissions and developing more carbon sinks. Transportation, (non-renewable) energy production and consumption, agriculture, and industry are examples of GHG-emitting sectors and processes, where net zero emission strategies need to be put in place.
Carbon neutrality is difficult to achieve at once, therefore we usually talk about a net zero transition. The net zero transition is a process of reaching carbon-neutrality that needs to be undertaken by states, businesses, organisations, and individuals. This includes setting progressive reduction targets over a period of time. This requires changes in many of our systems: how we produce and consume food (meat and dairy in particular), transportation (aviation is the biggest polluter), energy (phasing out fossil fuels), how businesses are run, and our consumption practices.
*‘A carbon sink is any system that absorbs more carbon than it emits. The main natural carbon sinks are soil, forests, oceans. According to estimates, natural sinks remove between 9.5 and 11 Gt of CO2 per year. Annual global CO2 emissions reached 38.0 Gt in 2019. To date, no artificial carbon sink can remove carbon from the atmosphere on the necessary scale to fight global warming’. 
Climate action: Paris Agreement and European Green Deal
The Paris Agreement came as a breakthrough global agreement to combat climate change in December 2015, adopted at COP21 in Paris.
The Paris Agreement establishes a global framework to avoid serious climate change by keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius and continuing efforts to keep it below 1.5 degrees Celsius. It also aims to improve the ability of countries to deal with the effects of climate change by assisting them in their efforts. 
European Green Deal
The European Green Deal was presented by the European Commission on 11 December 2019. Its main goal is to achieve climate neutrality (net zero) in Europe by 2050. It intends to accomplish it, while decoupling economic growth from the use of resources. The European Green Deal desires to implement a just transition to reach net zero, with ‘no person and no place left behind’. 
The European Green Deal has been accompanied by a series of European legislation, including the European Climate Law which makes the goal of climate neutrality by 2050 binding for the European Union. The European Climate Law also foresees that all EU policies contribute to achieving climate neutrality. In order to make that a reality though, all the economy sectors, businesses and society need to commit to this goal. 
Why a carbon neutral Festival?
The choice of a carbon-neutral URBACT City Festival coincided with the green transition becoming one of the cross-cutting priorities for the URBACT IV programme and with the requirement of the label of the French presidency in the Council of the EU for the event.
Also, we are aware that the events’ sector contributes significantly to carbon emissions and has a responsibility to address that and contribute to the EU climate neutrality goals. All the different components of an event preparation and delivery such as catering and meals, accommodation, venue, participant travel, transport of goods, waste, or other aspects of the event can account for hundreds or even thousands of tons of carbon emissions over a short period of time.
According to ADEME (French Agency for Ecological Transition), the transport of goods (equipment, delivery of products, etc.) and the mobility of participants and organisers represent about 80% of the carbon footprint of an event. The choice of responsible accommodation can also influence its carbon footprint. 
Achieving a carbon-neutral URBACT City Festival
A carbon-neutral City Festival means that our event is significantly reducing the direct and indirect emissions of all aspects of its planning and delivery, and that we are going to offset for those emissions we could not avoid.
It is a first programme-level carbon-neutral event for us, which we approach as an exciting pilot, paving the way for future carbon-neutral URBACT events and projects.
In practice, our City Festival’s carbon-neutral approach involves:
- An eco-friendly venue powered by renewable energy (La Cité Fertile), with recycling bins and composting systems
- Serving vegetarian and vegan dishes made from fresh, local and seasonal produce
- Proposing a list of more eco-responsible accommodations in the area
- Working with suppliers who are committed to sustainability
- Reusing of existing furniture and materials for venue branding
- Using primarily digital communication (mobile Festival website), no prints nor goodies at the Festival
- Encouraging you, our participants to choose more sustainable means of travel to the Festival and having prepared for you the carbon simulator
To be able to measure our event’s carbon footprint we are collecting all the GHG emission data, considering all the products and services offered during the event, but also the travels to the Festival. Once we know our emissions’ number, we will compensate by supporting meaningful carbon-offsetting projects in France.
Tools for you
Reduce your carbon footprint with the City Festival
How can you do that?
- Check out our carbon simulator and compare how many carbon emissions you can save with your travel choice – for instance, switch the plane for the train!
- Have a look at our list of more eco-friendly accommodations in Paris and make an informed decision about your stay
- You will be offered vegetarian and vegan food during the City Festival
- You can use public transport, rent a public bike or walk during the duration of the Festival, instead of taking a taxi for example.
- If you cannot come physically to the Festival, you will be able to follow some sessions online through live-streaming
Calculate your carbon footprint with the City Festival footprint calculator:
Help us with your carbon footprint data collection!
Collecting data from the different carbon emission categories to calculate the whole carbon footprint of the URBACT City Festival 2022 is essential to be able to assess our impact and know which number of emissions we need to compensate for.
As mobility is a major contributor to carbon emissions, particularly in an event context, we really need your help! It is helpful for us to know which means of transportation are you planning to take to and from the City Festival and this is why we are asking you this question in the registration form.
Thank you in advance for joining us in this challenge and helping to make our City Festival carbon-neutral!