As with so many unexpectedly magical transformations, it looked effortless. On Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019 the garden at the Wende Museum became a clubhouse; the Heidelberg Club gathered for their annual meeting to welcome the Mayor of Heidelberg, Germany, Dr. Eckart Würzner, to discuss sustainability and urban change.
The Heidelberg Club, a group of dedicated devotees of one of the oldest university towns in the world, draws both scholars and travelers to unite in support of the unique little city. The event at the Wende was attended by a select group to hear the current Mayor talk about “one of the globally most successful cities in climate protection.”
Würzner is a charismatic speaker, and illuminated the late October darkness with a powerpoint that noted Heidelberg had “…over 50% CO2 reduction despite increasing population, along with 70% green area,” a city surrounded by forests, and filled with growing families.
“People tend to work in the Old Town,” he said, referring to the historic university and Heidelberg Castle, “but they like to live in the newer parts of town.” With the brisk traffic back and forth, the city boasts the highest percentage of regular cyclists in Germany, with 34% of the population on two wheels. The city has also been promoting natural gas, electric, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles for over 10 years, with solid success.
All municipal properties are 100% powered by renewable energy sources, and Würzner invests much of his own energy in promoting relationships with other cities, “the greener the better, but we never hesitate to be a good influence where we can.”
While Heidelberg has eight official Sister Cities, and Culver City just recently added a fifth, the green connection might be an enticement towards a closer relationship. As the German municipality has no term limits, Würzner has held office as Mayor since 2006. Whoever Culver City’s future mayors may be, a closer view of how Heidelberg is meeting their climate goals could be further inspiration towards meeting our own.