COP24: cities and regions call for a formal role in the Paris Agreement  

The European Committee of the Regions joins forces with world networks of local governments in Katowice to request a formal role for cities and regions in the Paris Agreement

Cities account for 70% of world greenhouse emissions, with local governments being responsible for more than 70% of climate change reduction measures and up to 90% of climate adaptation actions. Yet, the Paris Agreement falls short in integrating a system that monitors and reports cities and regions' commitments and achievements in reducing CO emissions. The call for sub-national determined contributions to complement national pledges in the Paris rule book is gaining echo in Katowice as it is increasingly considered central to bridge the current emissions gap. The European Committee of the Regions took the floor at the plenary room of the United Nations (UN) COP24 Climate Change Conference to claim for a formal role for cities and regions in the implementation of the Paris Agreement, which is to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Click here to access the photo album of the CoR Delegation @ COP24.

The European Committee of the Regions is at COP24 in Katowice with a clear mandate. That of defending a formal role for local and regional governments in the global climate governance and in the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Three years after the signature of the Paris climate accord, Katowice is the voluntary deadline to adopt a robust work programme to put the agreement into motion.

This is a highlight summary of the activities and statements of the CoR @ COP24.

13 December 2018

The CoR 1st Vice-President Markku Markkula (FI/EPP) addressed a closing keynote at the EU pavilion in a special session on the drivers to achieve carbon neutrality in the European industry. The Chair of the Espoo City Board said: "We welcome the positive intentions and trends of energy intense industries to decrease their carbon footprint. You can count on our support to develop partnerships to maximise the potential of the SET Plan and promote research and innovation while driving cooperation between the EU, Member States, regions, industry and research institutions. Europe's industrial transformation must be a priority of Horizon Europe and for regional and private investments. Without the decarbonisation of the industry sector, we will not be able to reach the 2030 energy and climate targets, neither to honour our commitments under the Paris agreement, let alone the objectives of the 2050 climate-neutral strategy. We must now work hand in hand for a mutual beneficial shift towards a low carbon economy." The event 'Towards a Thriving Carbon Neutral Industry in Europe' was co-organised by the European Commission's DG RTD, Carbon Market Watch and SPIRE PPP.

12 December 2018

COP24 hosted the Cities and Regions Talanoa Dialogues closing session with the opening remarks of the UN Secretary General António Guterres. In an unusual format, the high level session was chaired by two COP presidents, COP23 President and Fijian Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama and Michał Kurtyka, Secretary of State of the Polish Ministry of Energy and Plenipotentiary for the Presidency of the COP24. 

Cor Lamers (NL/EPP), Mayor of Schiedam and Chair of the CoR's ENVE Commission took the floor at the plenary room on behalf of the world's local governments to request the formal inclusion of cities and regions in the Paris Agreement. Cor Lamers delivered the political message on behalf of the LGMA constituency. The Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) constituency, and ICLEI as its focal point, coordinates local government's observers at the UNFCCC intergovernmental climate negotiations.

Cor Lamers said: "On behalf of the LGMA constituency, we call on the Parties of the Paris Agreement to extend Talanoa dialogues beyond COP24 and to include Regionally and Locally Determined Contributions within Nationally Determined Contributions in the Paris Agreement. In addition, we commend the COP24 Presidency to formally acknowledge the commitments and achievements of local and regional governments in the COP24 final declaration. Local governments worldwide are ready to deliver. You can count on us."

Through the LGMA constituency, local and regional governments worldwide urge all Parties to ensure that the following reference is included in the final COP24 declaration. "We welcome the outcome and outputs of Talanoa Dialogues and invite Parties to use them for their NDCs". Local governments commend to the COP24 Presidency that the paragraph is strengthened with reference to multilevel action and fully embedded into the COP24 final declaration.

The UN confirmed in its last Emissions Gap Report the potential of cities and regions in the fight against global warming while acknowledging their impact to be "poorly documented". Regionally and Locally Determined Contributions (RLDCs) are designed to palliate that lack of data while reducing the emissions gap along with raising climate ambition.

At the end of the session, the COP23 and COP24 Presidencies announced a Talanoa Call for Action.  Talanoa Dialogues were launched last year by the COP23 Fiji Presidency as global facilitative framework for dialogue to take stock of the collective climate efforts undertaken by sub-national governments, civil society and businesses for better decision-making on climate at the UN level. Throughout 2018, the LGMA constituency participated in more than 60 Talanoa Dialogues in 40 countries, out of which 52 were hosted by local and regional governments, their networks or partners.

On December 12, the CoR's ENVE Chair Cor Lamers met with his counterpart at the European Parliament, Adina-Ioana Vălean      (RO/EPP), Chair of the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI). They both attended the COP24 negotiations briefing chaired by EU Commissioner for Climate Action Miguel Arias Cañete.

11 December 2018

On December 11, the CoR took part in the European Union's Energy Day at the COP24 EU pavilion. In a special session on coal regions Markku Markkula (FI/EPP), CoR's 1st Vice-President said: "The case of coal regions shows how crucial is multilevel governance to put the energy transition in place. National governments, cities and regions, industry, academia, citizens and the EU need to work together to make this transformation a success. New technologies and capacity building are crucial to go out of coal. Coal regions need robust and tailored financial measures. We therefore welcome the proposal of MEP Jerzy Buzek, Chair of the European Parliament's ITRE Committee, to allocate €4,8  billion in the next EU multi-annual budget for the Just Energy Transition Fund". The CoR is giving its support to the Coal Regions in Transition Platform, created just one year ago by the European Commission as part of the Clean Energy Package.

EU Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete stated "Across the EU, 240,000 workers are employed in the coal industry. 41 regions across 12 Member States are actively mining coal today. I want to turn the transition challenge into an opportunity for coal regions. This is possible and feasible. We have already delivered structural reforms assistance in 13 pilot regions in Slovakia, Poland, Greece, Romania, Czech Republic, Germany and Spain.

To reinforce its strategic partnership, the CoR and ICLEI – local governments for sustainability, held a bilateral meeting at COP24 on December 11."As climate talks are ongoing, it is an excellent moment to meet and reiterate our past, present and future cooperation in the field of climate action but also in biodiversity protection and conservation", said Markku Markkula (FI/EPP). Ashok Sridharan, ICLEI president and Mayor of Bonn, call on CoR members to keep ensuring the implementation of the climate and biodiversity targets in Europe along with pushing for more ambition and financial mechanisms.

On December 11, the CoR delegation attended the European Commission briefing on the progress of the COP24 negotiations together with members of the European Parliament and delegates from Member States. Andrew Cooper (UK/EA), member of the UK's Kirklees council and rapporteur on Climate Governance after 2020 addressed Commissioner Arias Cañete: "We want to look at the final COP24 political text and have a formal role for local and regional authorities. We want recognition that we are the ones who will deliver on the ground. We need to be included and we need to be counted". Commissioner Arias Cañete said: "We are very conscious that implementing climate policies needs cites and regions. We do not know yet the text that will be delivered by the presiding officers this afternoon. Such reference was included and we will try to support this idea."

10 December 2018

Andrew Cooper (UK/EA) addressed the audience at the EU pavilion to reiterate the CoR's call that "national inventory reports of the Paris Agreement transparency framework must include a section on mitigation actions undertaken by subnational governments." Rapporteur Cooper had the chance to share these messages at the German pavilion together with Ashok Sridharan, ICLEI president and Mayor of Bonn, in a session dedicated to "Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) indicators for cities: and inspiration to raise ambitions of locally determined contributions."

On December 10, at the Global Covenant of Mayors Day in the EU pavilion, Markku Markkula (FI/EPP) said: "It is time for higher climate ambition and actions. Cities and regions are ready to increase their climate contributions to complement national pledges. The slogan of the COP24 Polish Presidency is 'Changing together'. We, local and regional governments, are ambitious, inclusive and innovative. We know how to deliver on climate action. Today, we say to the UN Parties: You can count on us." The event has been co-organised by the European's Commission DG CLIMA, ICLEI, the Covenant of Mayors office and the CoR. Markku Markkula met with Marcin Krupa, Mayor of Katowice and congratulated the COP24 hosting city for joining the Covenant of Mayors as "more and more cities championing climate action are needed to deliver on the promises of the Paris Agreement."

Sirpa Hertell (FI/EPP), rapporteur of the CoR opinion on the EU climate change adaptation strategy and member of the city council of Espoo, held a bilateral meeting with Climate Alliance on December 10. Rapporteur Hertell said: "We agree with our partner networks that it is time to scale up local climate action. To reverse global warming we need a new economic and social model and this can only be successful if it's locally grounded."

The CoR delegation to COP24 was invited by the Mayor of Katowice, Marcin Krupa, to the Katowice Climate Shift: Culmination of cities and regions at COP24 on December 10. It was the occasion to showcase the more than 60 Cities and Regions Talanoa Dialogues along with a panel discussion on climate action at the local level in which CoR's 1st Vice-President Markku Markkula shared the CoR's key political messages to COP24.

At the end of COP24's first week, Marco Dus (IT/PES) was one of the panellists at the 2018 Global Health & Climate Change Summit. The rapporteur of the CoR opinion on climate finance stated that "local, national, and global policymakers need to act now to significantly reduce climate pollution and build climate resilience. Access to finance is a key element for many local and regional authorities to implement health-related climate action." Exposure to air pollution causes 7 million deaths worldwide every year. Meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement could save about a million lives a year worldwide by 2050 through reductions in air pollution alone (WHO).

In addition to the COP24 special best practice brochure and to keep increasing the visibility of cities and regions delivering on climate action, the CoR has coordinated the presence at COP24 of the 2018 winners of the Covenant Cities in the Spotlight awards. The CoR delegation has been joined this second COP week by Roberto Campelli, Mayor of Monsano, Erik Lauritzen, Mayor of Sønderborg, and Frederic Ximeno, Commissioner of Ecology of Barcelona's City Council.

Background:

The CoR delegation to COP24 is composed of Markku Markkula (FI/EPP), CoR 1st Vice-President and  Chair of the Espoo City Board, Cor Lamers (NL/EPP) Chair of the CoR's ENVE Commission and  Mayor of Schiedam, Valter Flego (HR/ALDE) 2nd Vice-Chair of the CoR's ENVE Commission and Prefect of the Istra County, Andrew Cooper (UK/EA), CoR ENVE EA coordinator, CoR rapporteur on post-2020 climate governance and Member of UK's Kirklees Council, Marco Dus (IT/PES), rapporteur on climate finance and Member of the Vittorio Veneto Municipal Council, Sirpa Hertell (FI/EPP) CoR rapporteur on the EU climate change adaptation strategy and City Councilor of Espoo, Andres Jaadla (EE/ALDE) CoR ENVE ALDE coordinator and Member of the Rakvere City Council, Daiva Matoniene (LT/ECR) CoR ENVE ECR coordinator and Member of the Šiauliai City Municipal Council and André Van De Nadort (NL/PES) CoR ENVE PES coordinator and Mayor of Weststellingwerf.

Contact: David Crous | david.crous@cor.europa.eu | +32 (0) 470 88 10 37