Since 2005 the Regional Council has launched 65 specific actions for sustainable development. The Council also incorporates sustainable development into every policy and project. It has no overall targets but more than 50 projects in which more than 400 agents are involved. For example, in Public Procurement, all regional contracts must have a sustainability clause. The Regional Council also has jurisdiction over 271 public senior high schools as a real estates manager, involving construction and maintenance of buildings. It is focusing on reducing carbon emissions by building energy-efficient buildings, developing renewable energy sources (photovoltaic cells, biomass heating systems), installing control systems to monitor and reduce energy consumption, and finally by engaging the entire educational community in cooperative energy-saving projects. Rhône-Alpes has a laureate program to provide financial support to projects in sustainable development. This support encourages private organisations and individuals to take the lead in greening their own operations.
The region is implementing a host of actions to tackle climate change challenges; these actions are currently being structured in the framework of a territorial climate plan which is set to be adopted in late 2012, further to the formulation of a 1st version (or draft) in 2011. Two institutions are in charge of climate change action: the DG on Climate, Environment, Health and Energy and the Environmental Agency. The first of these defines regional policy on renewable energy, environment, natural conservation, waste management and air quality. The second implements the environmental scheme passed by the Regional Council.
On its own buildings, the Regional Council has developed actions to reduce by 40% carbon emissions of its public high schools, implementing the actions issued of preliminary audits such as insulation, high performance systems, low energy artificial lighting implementing energy efficiency programs and services. The regional policy encourages and supports energy transition in order to develop a devolved energy model where the bouquet of renewable energies will gradually replace fossil energy. The target model gives priority to sobriety and efficiency for all sources of energy consumption, which will be backed by increased investments in renewable energies. The regional policy targets all stakeholders, from local authorities to private individuals, not forgetting businesses. Subsidies of 20 to 50 % are allocated to actions to support energy sobriety, as well as investments in energy efficient buildings and renewable energies.
On its own real estate, Regional Council has developed biomass heating and domestic hot water for last 20 years to reach about 10% of heating demand of its public high schools. It is planned to reach by 2012 20 % of overall energy demand, including specific electricity uses, developing biomass, solar heating and photovoltaic plants thanks to private partnerships. Since 2005, more than 20,000 homes have been able to invest in thermal solar energy or wood-powered installations in the framework of the energy plan. Budgets of 20 to 25 M€ are earmarked for this purpose every year. With 2.5 Mtoe, the renewable energy produced by the Region stands at almost 15% of its energy consumption and is comprised mainly of hydroelectricity and wood energy. In future years, the share of solar energy and wind power is set to increase.
The initiative "Au travail j’y vais autrement" (I go to work differently) has gathered a consortium of 225 firms in an effort to establish new ways for their employees to go to work using low carbon transport. Eco-mobility initiatives including walking, cycling, car sharing, plan de déplacements interentreprises et plans de déplacements lies au tourisme, transport par câble are also being run by the Regional Council, many of which are coordinated with public transport.
Sustainable land use
Forest covers 35% of the region (1.5 million hectares) and 60,000 jobs depend directly on forestry. Around 75% of woodlands are in private hands, and their protection is guaranteed through national regulations.
Rhône-Alpes has a programme of waste management and recycling that includes electronic devices, toxic waste, batteries and car waste. As of 2009 138 tons of toxic waste had been processed. Food oils are recycled into bio-fuels or other products like candles.
Rhône-Alps hosted the first European Conference of Regions on climate issues, in October 2011. A statement has been adopted, underlining the commitments taken over by the European regions and regional networks (The Climate Group and nrg4SD). Climate action is in the scope of the South/North cooperation (action in Senegal with the UNDP - Territorial Approach of Climate Change.