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A new air and climate plan for Milan

The City Council of Milan approved the Air and Climate Plan (PAC), an action plan to become fully carbon neutral and a cycle-pedestrian city by 2050.

The creation of the PAC took place through a participatory process involving citizens, associations, businesses and other city actors. The foundation for the development of the PAC was laid down through Milan’s participation in the Deep Demonstrations of Healthy, Clean Cities. 

Italy’s second most populous city, Milan has set an ambitious goal and has committed itself to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by actively pursuing the actions set forth in the PAC. This strategic document guides the city government and many key stakeholders in moving forward on aggressive actions to achieve climate neutrality. The PAC will bring new governance models and citizen engagement processes, as well as innovative financing mechanisms to tackle energy efficiency and decarbonisation issues. Its main goals are the reduction of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality, adapting to climate change and contributing to climate change prevention through policies. The strategy is divided into five areas: Health, Connection and Accessibility, Energy, Climate Change Adaptation and Awareness.

Thanks to the final approval of the PAC by the City Council, the administration, economic and social stakeholders, citizens and the municipality now have a fundamental tool for planning, targeting and implementing an increasingly resilient and greener urban development model that will lead Milan to be a carbon-neutral city in 2050. These measures can no longer be postponed, not even by the citizens who contributed significantly to the development of the document. 

Elena Grandi, Municipality of Milan’s Councillor for the City of Milan

Tackling transportation, energy and raising awareness for climate action

Among the main actions planned by the PAC is the gradual creation of a cycle-pedestrian city, a 30 km per hour area that will significantly reduce car traffic. Starting from October 2022, the vehicles considered particularly polluting will gradually be banned in selected areas of the city.

The city will also work on the energy refurbishment of public heritage buildings to promote the reduction of fossil fuels by up to 50% by 2030. More than 60 000 m2 of photovoltaic panels will be installed to cover the energy consumption of public buildings.

The PAC also includes greening actions to reduce urban heat islands through de-paving, increasing urban green spaces and forestation. According to Milan’s Air and Climate Plan, the existing green infrastructure is going to become more usable, and accessible and will provide more ecosystem services (e.g. through the work of the Forestami Project that aims to plant 3 million trees in the metropolitan area, supporting the construction of green roofs and walls).

The PAC also includes educational activities aimed at city residents. The Municipality of Milan will raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and the need to adopt a sustainable lifestyle and consumption habits, as well as principles of circular economy through communication actions and local best practices.

Joint efforts for Milan’s greener future

The implementation of the Air and Climate Plan is intertwined with EIT Climate-KIC Healthy, Clean Cities Deep Demonstrations in Milan, an approach aiming to make the 15 participating cities carbon neutral by 2030. On the one hand, the goals and measures included in the PAC served as discussion and analysis points for the Deep Demonstration implementation process. On the other, the Deep Demonstration process has supported the elaboration of more concrete and efficient PAC measures.

We knew we needed to invest in experimentation with cities willing to work with high ambition and the capabilities to embrace systemic work. We had a good relationship with Milan, having helped with several projects over the years. For Healthy, Clean Cities, we began by embracing the need for much more aggressive actions, built upon the knowledge that individual actions by themselves cannot add up to climate neutrality. Together we shaped a set of actions that relate to each other, foster rapid learning, and can overcome long-entrenched barriers to change. 

Thomas Osdoba, NetZeroCities Programme Director at EIT Climate-KIC

Four intertwined, replicable and scalable experiments have been carried out within the two-year Deep Demonstration process in Milan, providing important insights and knowledge between internationally related projects across Europe:

  • Energy Dashboard: a decision-making support tool tracking energy-related data from Milan buildings that provides comprehensive knowledge about the city’s energy needs and potential, as well as stimulates energy interventions and actions to decarbonise the city.
  • Milano Transition Fund: a fund based on the ratio of using the energy savings from building interventions – e.g. roof, floor and wall insulation, installation of heat pumps, conversion from fossil fuels to electric energy – to finance the capital and installation costs of properties to support building owners.
  • Permanent Citizen Panel: a civic participatory tool that allows citizens to take part and deliberate on the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the PAC. This is a new participatory instrument for the city with high social potential. It was rewarded a Special Mention for Climate at the 15th edition of the “Best Practice in Citizen Participation Award”, promoted by the International Observatory for Participatory Democracy.
  • Carbon Neutral Areas: areas of urban transformation with new construction, or revitalisation of abandoned areas that will achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030 in terms of the entire life cycle of buildings and in terms of induced mobility. The Municipality of Milan has established a set of reference criteria for Carbon Neutral Areas and has developed a baseline report, “Guideline for GHG calculation and offsetting in Carbon Neutral Areas”, with requirements for the permitting process and monitoring plan that the City of Milan will use to quantify GHG emissions in the context of carbon neutral areas.

Thanks to these continuous efforts to aim for carbon neutrality, Milan was selected by the European Commission to join its Mission on Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities and receive extensive support from NetZeroCities, a platform led by EIT Climate-KIC that will enable the participating cities to learn from one another and support each other on their transition to net-zero. The other selected cities include Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Madrid, Malmö, Lisbon, Frankfurt and Kraków.

The full list of cities is available here

Read more about Milan’s participation in NetZeroCities (in Italian) here.