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Covenant of Mayors: EU calls on world's cities and regions to join forces to combat climate change

The President of the European Committee of the Regions, Markku Markkula, and the European Commission's Vice-President, Maroš Sefčovič, have said that cities and regions are key partners in efforts to limit the rise in the Earth's temperature below 2°C. They called on local and regional governments across the world to join forces by signing up to the Covenant of Mayors which commits signatories to cutting at least 40% of 1990 levels of carbon emissions by 2030.

Launched in 2008, the Covenant commits local and regional governments to meet and exceed the EU's climate and energy targets. Since then it has grown with over 6,500 cities and regions representing over 200m citizen agreeing to cut more than 20% of their carbon emissions by 2020. Building on the momentum, it was recently merged with the Mayors Adapt – which supports cities and regions to integrate mitigation and adaptation measures – and set a new 40% carbon-reduction emission target for 2030.

The CoR – an EU institution of 350 mayors, regional presidents and councillors – has long backed the Covenant as an example of how governments at all levels can work together to deliver climate action. Referring to a UNFCCC report that suggests current climate proposals would only limit temperature rises to 2 °C, the CoR President, Markku Markkula, said: "The current climate proposals lack teeth and won't be enough. But we all have a collective responsibility to tackle climate change. The Covenant of Mayors is a perfect example of successful multi-level governance in climate policy: it delivers results and surpasses national ambition. It makes everyone work together and pool resources. The globalisation of the Covenant of Mayors is good news for both climate justice and sustainable development."

The European Commission's Vice-President, Maroš Sefčovič, said: 'Based on the many meetings I had with local leaders, I am deeply convinced that cities and regions should be at the forefront of climate action. The Covenant of Mayors has proven to be very successful so far, and we have to build on its success. We are therefore committed to reinforcing this network and turn it into a truly global movement, based on a shared long-term vision. Long live the Global Covenant of Mayors!"

Support for the globalisation of the Covenant of Mayors came from the Mayor of Durban in South Africa, James Nxumalo, who is Vice-President of ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability. He said: "It is cities that tackle climate change most effectively, so it is vital that local leaders are recognised as key actors in reducing emissions and implementing climate adaptation measures. Initiatives such as the Compact of Mayors and the Covenant of Mayors, which recently entered into a partnership, show that local leaders are taking local level initiative to help set the terms of climate action, and are forging their own path to a more sustainable future."

The remarks came during a flagship event on the Covenant held only a few days before the end of the COP21, where negotiators are likely to turn to alternative solutions, such as focusing on delivering local climate action. Local and regional governments, including the members of the CoR, insist on being included within the new global climate-governance system, to work alongside the UNFCCC and states. In a report drafted by Kata Tüttő, a Councillor from Budapest, the CoR is also committed to promoting local and regional climate action in the EU and its neighbourhood.

As part of the effort to take it global, the initiative has officially become part of the Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action (NAZCA) – a platform launched by the UNFCCC that registers commitments to tackle climate change.

Recent related reports by the Committee of the Regions:


Andrew Gardner
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