How easy adjustments in metropolis procurement can scale back CO2 emissions

This article was originally published by Anna Lisa Boni on Cities today, the leading news platform for urban mobility and innovation reaching an international audience of city guides. For the latest updates, see Cities Today Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Youtubeor sign up for Cities Today News.

The standard struggle for the next ten years is taking shape. On the one hand European cities and on the other hand emissions, CO2 and environmental pollution. The goal? Achieve CO2 neutrality and come one step closer to the end of the climate crisis.

Cities across Europe have an arsenal of tools to tackle climate change, but one that is often overlooked is procurement. In the grand coalition of humankind fighting a common enemy, this powerful tool cannot be ignored.

The proof is there. In Oslo, the world saw the first emission-free construction site – or Zemcons. In the Olav V road renovation project, all machines – excavators, excavators and loaders – are electric.

The project has enormous benefits for the residents of Oslo in terms of air quality and noise pollution. It also reminds us that building, for example, accounts for 23 percent of global CO2 emissions and almost six percent of those emissions come directly from activities on construction sites.


Oslo, along with Amsterdam, Brussels, Budapest, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Lisbon, Trondheim and Vienna, belongs to the Zemcons group of EU-funded Big Buyers for Climate and Environment. This is a success story of joint European cooperation in procurement to achieve climate neutrality.

Projects such as the Olav V road renovation in particular convey a clear message to the industry: the demand for emission-free construction machinery is there. The supply must now move in order to meet this demand.

Critics may see the challenge of shifting the market towards zero-emission machines as an expensive struggle, but turning our longstanding habits on their head has been on the agenda lately for most of Europe – who can say they aren’t for have chosen more environmentally friendly? and cleaner buying habits in the past decade? For cities, the joint European cooperation, for example through the big buyers for climate and environment, is a clear signal of their intention to change their procurement plans – and this change is attractive for both buyers and suppliers.

Daring and ambitious cities are working on tests and trials in collaboration with suppliers across Europe. Oslo won’t be the last city to have clean, green and quiet construction sites. There’s no shame or blame in collaborating like this – when the best plans don’t work, cities and construction suppliers work together to find solutions.

My colleague Romeo Apetrei-Thomassen from Oslo says: “We have to inform the market that this is coming. The faster you change your profile, the better it will be for society. “


Indeed, we can already see the fruits of this common European cooperation. In the Nordic market, pressure from the authorities has pushed suppliers to take the step towards zero-emission machines. For example, NASTA now offers a 17.5 ton battery powered excavator that is cleaner and quieter than its diesel powered counterpart. Other suppliers such as Caterpillar, Wacker Neuson, Liebherr, Hitachi CM and Volvo CE are also striving to electrify their fleets.

However, this is still not enough to keep up with regional demand. It is clear that the Zemcons trend is dynamic and it is important that the political will required to implement these ambitious projects does not dry up. Experience in Oslo, Copenhagen and Helsinki shows that unwavering political support was a key factor in the success of their pilot locations.

Cities in Europe have clearly shown that they are innovative in their approach to tackling climate change. It was no magic that Oslo’s Olav V site came into being – it took hard work and political commitment to reduce the construction sector’s carbon footprint.

If a city can use procurement so effectively, the benefits of cities working together in this area could be the secret weapon in the fight against climate change.

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Published on December 27, 2020 – 01:00 UTC

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