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New bike lanes and metro stations in Bucharest paid for by carbon credits

Yevgen Yesyrkenov's picture

Also available in: Russian

Over the years, Bucharest has improved its cycling infrastructure. Photo: Stelian Pavalache


Over the past year, people living in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, are seeing more bike lanes and metro stations in their city than before.

There are now about 122 km of cycling paths and four metro lines with 45 stations. It is a welcome sight in a city that suffers from air pollution and where many people tend to use private vehicles. Using bikes and the metro is cleaning up the city and, for some, is a quicker way to get around. And, as its popularity increases, it will likely lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Financing for this new development comes in part from the sale of carbon credits to Romanian power companies by the government, a welcome revenue stream for a stretched city budget.  

Since 2013, power companies in Romania are required to buy rights to emit carbon dioxide - or European Union Allowances (EUAs), as they are called in the European Emission Trading System (EU ETS). They buy these ‘rights to pollute’ at EU ETS auctions at an ever rising cost since they are required to buy more allowances over time.

The idea is that the more expensive it is for power companies to emit, the more likely they are to become energy efficient and switch to greener technologies. And the revenues from the EUA auctions are used to support a greener environment: the government of Romania spends around 70% of the received income on climate investment projects.

The income from the auctions is quite substantial. In 2013-2014, Romania collected about 260 million Euros and they are hoping to collect considerably more - about 2 billion Euros - during the 2016-2020 period. This is a much-needed source of income to help put the country on a pathway toward a low-carbon and resilient economy.

The World Bank has been helping Romania develop a plan to spend its growing climate funds effectively. Within the Bank’s framework of the Advisory Services Program on Climate Change and Low-Carbon Green Growth, the government looked at best practices across Europe in managing these funds and received advice on how to prioritize investments and improve legal and institutional structures to reduce emissions, create jobs, attract private capital and improve the standard of living of its population.

Today, however, only about 1% of people in Bucharest use bikes and about 16% use the metro. This is substantially lower than other European cities like Stockholm and Amsterdam and presents a clear opportunity for growth in green transportation. It goes hand in hand with other climate-smart investments Romania is preparing in sectors like energy, transport, agriculture, and forestry, including a successful carbon finance project to plant trees on about 6,000 hectares of degraded agricultural lands, which they are now looking to expand.

 

Comments

Submitted by Sue Wood on

This is a marvelous case story for how carbon credits work. Thank you so much for sharing it!

Submitted by Sue Wood on

I absolutely will share it. I just posted it on facebook and will post in on LinkedIn. It's a really good case study.

Submitted by Daniel Scholz on

Dear Yevgen,

thank you for your posting. I am curious to learn more about such consultancy you provide for EU MS. How do you identify attractive potentials? Do you also consider in you work the use/financing of offset instruments/projects from ETS proceeds? I am asking myself what lessons may be drawn from your experience regarding this. Is it an interesting earmarking option for governments to finance or support such offset instruments for driving mitigation? What advantages and downsides of this do you see? Currently in the EU we discuss the introduction of an offset instrument under the future ESD. Thanks for your reply!
Daniel

Dear Daniel,

Here, you can find a pdf that summarizes our consultancy work for the Romanian government regarding the use of EU ETS auction revenues. On page 2, please see the criteria we used to identify attractive options. I can also send you the text of our full report so you can see how we identified attractive potential options. We also studied the use of project-based mechanisms within the framework of the Effort-Sharing Decision (ESD) for Romania – see Chapter 5, Section 5.3. However, since the rules are not yet adopted and there is no clarity on real demand for offsets, we did not recommend financing them at this point. However, since most of the recommended climate finance programs in Romania are in ESD sectors, they could easily be transformed into projects as soon as rules are adopted and there is real demand for offsets from other EU Member States.
 

Submitted by Dragos Palaghita on

Good case study, but there are less km of cycling paths than one would expect. Most of the 122 km of cycling paths have been closed by the police as illegal. According to the wikipedia link from the article (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cycling_in_Bucharest):

"Between 2008-2010, the Bucharest City Hall built 122 km of cycling paths on the sidewalks of the city (mixing bicycle and pedestrian traffic), at a cost of 12 million €.[3] They were closed down by the traffic police in 2012 as they were found to be illegal according to the traffic code.[3]"

Also please check the photos in this article (http://optar.ro/analiza-pistele-pentru-biciclete-din-bucuresti.html) from 2011 about the bike routes in Bucharest. These are the ones that formed most of the 122 kilometers and now most of them are closed down.

Submitted by Alexandru R. on

Thank you for shedding some light on the matter! It's nice to know that someone actually does a little research! ;)

Many thanks for the comments and lively debate on the subject of this blog.

We appreciate your engagement on the subject, and agree that this is an important topic. We have been in touch with the Bucharest City Administration to confirm the current length of bike lanes in Bucharest. 122 kilometers is the most recent official figure of bike lanes in Bucharest that is available to us. But we acknowledge that we are not in a position to verify which bike lanes that were originally put in place over the years are still open today and which have been closed.  
 
Also, we understand that 12 new metro stations are now under construction.
 
What we wanted to illustrate with this blog is that carbon finance is a good instrument to use to finance green transportation. It is an innovative solution for tight city budgets that may not have access to other sources of financing. Not only does it finance new, clean projects but it also acts as an incentive for power plants to lower their greenhouse gas emissions over time.
 
Despite the challenges that have become apparent in Bucharest – and in many other cities around the world, we should add – we feel strongly that the various types of “green” urban transport infrastructure – bike lanes, natural gas and electric buses, metro, streetcars, etc - is the way of the future. We hope that the issues facing bikers in Bucharest are soon resolved and that the city will continue to improve its green infrastructure.

Submitted by Adrian Constantin on

Research first , as most of them 90-95 % are closed by the police with indicators and we are using the road itself togheter with the cars.

Most of them are build within the same walking area for pedestrians so it's a high risk and no efficiency.

Many thanks for the comments and lively debate on the subject of this blog.

We appreciate your engagement on the subject, and agree that this is an important topic. We have been in touch with the Bucharest City Administration to confirm the current length of bike lanes in Bucharest. 122 kilometers is the most recent official figure of bike lanes in Bucharest that is available to us. But we acknowledge that we are not in a position to verify which bike lanes that were originally put in place over the years are still open today and which have been closed.  
 
Also, we understand that 12 new metro stations are now under construction.
 
What we wanted to illustrate with this blog is that carbon finance is a good instrument to use to finance green transportation. It is an innovative solution for tight city budgets that may not have access to other sources of financing. Not only does it finance new, clean projects but it also acts as an incentive for power plants to lower their greenhouse gas emissions over time.
 
Despite the challenges that have become apparent in Bucharest – and in many other cities around the world, we should add – we feel strongly that the various types of “green” urban transport infrastructure – bike lanes, natural gas and electric buses, metro, streetcars, etc - is the way of the future. We hope that the issues facing bikers in Bucharest are soon resolved and that the city will continue to improve its green infrastructure.

Submitted by Bogdan Udrescu on

Hey there! Please show me those 112 km of bike lanes here in Bucharest. Also please make a more thorough research next time. The fact that you saw written such numbers doesnțt meant they are really built. The (one) only truly in-norms bike lane has about 3km. The rest are not even legal. Mostly on the sideboard of the streets, putting pedestrians at risk. They where painted on the asphalt with the only purpose to look good in the EU eyes. Research research research ... so they told me at the architecture and urban planning university.
Have a good day!

Many thanks for the comments and lively debate on the subject of this blog.

We appreciate your engagement on the subject, and agree that this is an important topic. We have been in touch with the Bucharest City Administration to confirm the current length of bike lanes in Bucharest. 122 kilometers is the most recent official figure of bike lanes in Bucharest that is available to us. But we acknowledge that we are not in a position to verify which bike lanes that were originally put in place over the years are still open today and which have been closed.  
 
Also, we understand that 12 new metro stations are now under construction.
 
What we wanted to illustrate with this blog is that carbon finance is a good instrument to use to finance green transportation. It is an innovative solution for tight city budgets that may not have access to other sources of financing. Not only does it finance new, clean projects but it also acts as an incentive for power plants to lower their greenhouse gas emissions over time.
 
Despite the challenges that have become apparent in Bucharest – and in many other cities around the world, we should add – we feel strongly that the various types of “green” urban transport infrastructure – bike lanes, natural gas and electric buses, metro, streetcars, etc - is the way of the future. We hope that the issues facing bikers in Bucharest are soon resolved and that the city will continue to improve its green infrastructure.

Submitted by Marius V on

Hello,

As a Bucharest citizen, I have to say that your info are outdated and misleading. Unfortunately, the bike infrastructure here is of very poor quality, and the air is heavily polluted by cars stucked in traffic jams.

There is only one bike lane on Victoriei bd:
http://www.hotnews.ro/stiri-administratie_locala-19976187-fotogalerie-primaria-bucuresti-terminat-pista-biciclete-calea-victoriei-cum-arata-acum-unul-dintre-bulevardele-emblematice-ale-capitalei.htm

Also, Romanian government treats polution as a joke in the whole country. Forests are cut massively, and motorized traffic is encouraged (it even exist a national program for funding a "first car" for youths).

Many thanks for the comments and lively debate on the subject of this blog.

We appreciate your engagement on the subject, and agree that this is an important topic. We have been in touch with the Bucharest City Administration to confirm the current length of bike lanes in Bucharest. 122 kilometers is the most recent official figure of bike lanes in Bucharest that is available to us. But we acknowledge that we are not in a position to verify which bike lanes that were originally put in place over the years are still open today and which have been closed.  
 
Also, we understand that 12 new metro stations are now under construction.
 
What we wanted to illustrate with this blog is that carbon finance is a good instrument to use to finance green transportation. It is an innovative solution for tight city budgets that may not have access to other sources of financing. Not only does it finance new, clean projects but it also acts as an incentive for power plants to lower their greenhouse gas emissions over time.
 
Despite the challenges that have become apparent in Bucharest – and in many other cities around the world, we should add – we feel strongly that the various types of “green” urban transport infrastructure – bike lanes, natural gas and electric buses, metro, streetcars, etc - is the way of the future. We hope that the issues facing bikers in Bucharest are soon resolved and that the city will continue to improve its green infrastructure.

Submitted by Adrian Nasui on

This article is fake, sorry, I am a Bucharest citizen, Bucharest is not friendly to bikes, and the only bike lanes that are legal and usable were done in 2015, and we are talking about roughly 3-4 KM.

The lanes which the article talks about WERE ALL DECLARED ILLEGAL BY THE POLICE because of not being safe or properly implemented.

You are probably reporting from a parallel universe.

Many thanks for the comments and lively debate on the subject of this blog.

We appreciate your engagement on the subject, and agree that this is an important topic. We have been in touch with the Bucharest City Administration to confirm the current length of bike lanes in Bucharest. 122 kilometers is the most recent official figure of bike lanes in Bucharest that is available to us. But we acknowledge that we are not in a position to verify which bike lanes that were originally put in place over the years are still open today and which have been closed.  
 
Also, we understand that 12 new metro stations are now under construction.
 
What we wanted to illustrate with this blog is that carbon finance is a good instrument to use to finance green transportation. It is an innovative solution for tight city budgets that may not have access to other sources of financing. Not only does it finance new, clean projects but it also acts as an incentive for power plants to lower their greenhouse gas emissions over time.
 
Despite the challenges that have become apparent in Bucharest – and in many other cities around the world, we should add – we feel strongly that the various types of “green” urban transport infrastructure – bike lanes, natural gas and electric buses, metro, streetcars, etc - is the way of the future. We hope that the issues facing bikers in Bucharest are soon resolved and that the city will continue to improve its green infrastructure.

Submitted by Mihai on

Dear author,

As much as this is a great idea, it is not true. As people above have highlighted, most of the bike lanes have been declared illegal by the police. It is unfortunately still a city DOMINATED by cars and by not obeying laws. People don't get fined for parking on sidewalks, on crosswalks or anywhere else.

You would do a bigger service to Bucharest and to the country by speaking about these facts first and making them known to everyone across the globe.

Best Regards,
A walking citizen in the car empire of Bucharest

Many thanks for the comments and lively debate on the subject of this blog.

We appreciate your engagement on the subject, and agree that this is an important topic. We have been in touch with the Bucharest City Administration to confirm the current length of bike lanes in Bucharest. 122 kilometers is the most recent official figure of bike lanes in Bucharest that is available to us. But we acknowledge that we are not in a position to verify which bike lanes that were originally put in place over the years are still open today and which have been closed.  
 
Also, we understand that 12 new metro stations are now under construction.
 
What we wanted to illustrate with this blog is that carbon finance is a good instrument to use to finance green transportation. It is an innovative solution for tight city budgets that may not have access to other sources of financing. Not only does it finance new, clean projects but it also acts as an incentive for power plants to lower their greenhouse gas emissions over time.
 
Despite the challenges that have become apparent in Bucharest – and in many other cities around the world, we should add – we feel strongly that the various types of “green” urban transport infrastructure – bike lanes, natural gas and electric buses, metro, streetcars, etc - is the way of the future.

We hope that the issues facing bikers in Bucharest are soon resolved and that the city will continue to improve its green infrastructure.
 

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