The Mayor Wilfried Roos gave the impetus to a complete change of the City of Saerbeck to a climate friendly future.
Illustration : Wilfried Roos
In 2008, Wilfried Roos decided to participate at a competition of the state of North Rhine Westphalia. The state was seeking for a model community for climate protection and climate adaption. At that time, the nominee spotted the great chance of a climate friendly future as a basis for a sustainable future of a local community. His big motivation was driven by a very personal reason: he was convinced that there will be no longer oil and natural gas sources when his grandchildren will reach the same age as himself – so there must be found another way to supply the local energy than by fossils. Another motivation was his foreseeing mind that changing the energy supply to renewable energies will give a tremendous impact to local value added, jobs in future industries and a local contribution to a global problem – reducing GHG-emissions and global warming. The nominee made Energy Transition, Climate Protection and Climate Adaptation in practically becoming a big task in the whole community and decided together with the city council to become self-sufficient with renewable energies by 2030. The roadmap to renewable energies has been worked out in 2008 in Saerbeck’s integrated climate protection and climate adaptation concept (ICCC). The ICCC covers roundabout 150 measures, 7 fields of action and 3 key projects.
Due to this concept Saerbeck was honored as (North Rhine Westphalia) Climate Community of the Future. This concept is strongly influenced by the nominee´s intention: climate protection in Saerbeck is defined as a common task, a whole community is on its way to live the energy turnaround in everyday life. That´s why all projects have been worked out as models for participation of all inhabitants in three dimensions: ideally – in understanding that they are both part of the problem and part of the solution, practically – in realizing as much projects as possible from small to large scale and financially – in investing in the renewable projects as a new market model. The main project to accomplish the climate protection goals is the Bioenergy arc, which was built on the grounds of a former German army ammunition camp. In a mix of 7 wind turbines, 2 biomass plants and a huge Solar Power Parc on the flanks of the former bunkers there are 2.5 times more renewable energies produced than the local need. All the 70 Mio. € of investment in renewable energies is done by local money. 400 inhabitants are assembled in an energy cooperation which is the most important investor.
The nominee was the most important promoter of the project and personally involved in the realization of all projects. The nominee started the project of the climate community in 2009. Up to today there have been more than 100 different projects realized. The main project – the Bioenergyparc was build up within 3 years. In 2014 due to his initiative Saerbeck won another competition concerning a climate friendly heat supply of all private buildings (KWK-Modellkommune NRW). This project brings together synergies from the Bioenergyparc and new ideas e.g. in using overcapacities of heat produced by the biomass plants in the Bioenergyparc for feeding a local heat pipeline network for private houses. The next step is a climate friendly mobility to enlarge the use of electric cars until 2020. The City of Saerbeck will buy its first electric car this year. Upcoming project is an electric car sharing system for the whole city of Saerbeck replacing cars “number two and three” of the households. The nominee is scaling up the positive experiences of the first years following the way he begun in 2008. There were no big challenging barriers during the last years besides a lot of work to be done. The nominee took along lots of people in Saerbeck, he involved the political level within numerous assemblies, he promoted projects to invest people from farmers to local companies, he motivated the city administration to manage a lot of projects, and he founded the local energy cooperation. The great number of fellow campaigners made it very easy to persist the time of realizing lots of projects in a short period of time. The nominee lived his conviction in a very persuasive way and reached the people in Saerbeck to follow him on this way. This bright endorsement empowers all projects of the climate community until now. The success of the projects, the high level of participation and identification, recognition and respect on national and international level approve the Saerbeck way of climate protection. That´s what the nominee personally stands for.
The impact in energy terms proves that the idea of and the engagement in sustainable energy future are working. The total production of local renewable energies by wind, sun and biomass is nearly 3.5 times higher than the local consumption. The energy is not only produced in the main project – the Bioenergyparc but on the roof tops of private houses, farming buildings and business building as well. This is not the end: another windparc is actually build up next to the Bioenergyparc, so there will be at least 500% of renewable energies in Saerbeck in 2018. Within the past 5 years, the carbon footprint was cut in half. These results and effects show in a convincing way that community based climate protection is a winning story. Actually, there are as many new jobs in the bioenergyparc as there had been at the former military use, 35 of them are handicapped people working for the maintenance of the greens. This was a special initiative of the nominee and shows his social responsibility on a very practical level. Local business companies are investors in windturbines, local farmers are driving their own biomass plant together with a local business company. There is a big impact concerning education for climate protection with six steps beginning from Kindergardens up to an out of school class in the Bioenergyparc with more than 2.000 students a year. The nominee is chief of the board of an association that manages these soft skills. More than 55.000 people visited Saerbeck since 2011, more and more of them coming from all over the world. As one result of these numerous visits there are actually two Climate Protection Partnerships with Cities in Minnesota, USA and Fukushima, Japan. These partnerships are standing for the national and international engagement of the nominee concerning climate protection on a local level given answers to global challenges.
The nominee pointed out all the time not only to participate in the competition but to win it. He understands climate protection as a chance for increasing local living conditions on a long-term view. As a passionate chess player, he was always able to see the development and chances as well as the challenges of climate protection for the city of Saerbeck “three steps ahead”. When all the projects of the Climate Community started in 2009 nobody knew at that time where the story will find it´s end. It was the nominee who always said not only to talk about problems but to solve them. Along the different projects from 2009 up to now he never lost hope to follow the right way knowing all the time that there will be a plan B and even a plan C. A big motivation was the high level of participation and the support by the inhabitants in Saerbeck. By involving the people of Saerbeck in all of the projects of climate protection the nominee ensured a great support and an enormous high level of acceptance for his way. One big result is an ongoing high level of identification of the people in Saerbeck saying: “We are climate community”. The strategic vision and practical work of the nominee is furthermore focused on: the engagement for investments from small to big money bags the foundation of an own local driven energy supplier a strategic corporation “Windpool Saerbeck” to collect 5 different investors in one company the engagement of the City of Saerbeck as project developer the role of education as basis for understanding climate change and living climate friendly.
The nominee motivates the people by showing livable ways to increase local live on a low level, so that everybody is able to understand this way, to follow it and to act in this way. He is known for doing what he is saying. His great strength is involving people at a very early point. This is not only pointed to the engagement in climate protection but also concerning the refugee crisis and nearly every other question of social and economic live in Saerbeck. Informing the public at the beginning ensures a high level of understanding offering solutions and not problems. He always is optimistic about the local challenges, sure to find common solutions: his politics is truly authentic and close to the people. He inspires others by his forward looking and proactive approach to local challenges. He very early found out that the issues of climate protection are an important source for a future vision of a local community. Acting locally and thinking globally became reality. The nominee is politically independent. He was reelected for 4 times since he started his career in 1999. Within the last election there was no other nominee and he received his best result ever: more than 85 % of the electors gave him their vote. This was a great acknowledgement for his way to a sustainable future in Saerbeck. The nominee is member of different boards of climate protection in Germany and head of several climate protection partnerships with other cities around the globe. He is travelling all over the world to spread the Saerbeck message of a local contribution to a global problem. He never stops informing visitors coming to Saerbeck, explaining with recurring conviction the Saerbeck way of climate protection, that “Climate protection on a local level is really working and good for the people.”