EU cities and regions set 2019 priorities for environment, energy and climate  

Local and regional governments are resolute to pressure Member States to raise climate ambition, set energy poverty reduction targets and include cities and regions within national climate and energy plans, due by the end of the year

The Commission for Environment, Climate Change and Energy (ENVE) of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) has adopted its 2019 work programe. Europe's clean energy transition, energy poverty, climate change and the implementation of the Paris agreement are on top of the agenda in addition to environmental and biodiversity protection. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as the 2030 cross-sectorial blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future worldwide, are to orient ENVE's work programme. 

Under the lead of Michele Emiliano (IT/PES), President of Puglia Region, members had an exchange of views on the 2050 climate neutral strategy, published by the European Commission last November 2018. President Emiliano declared: "This is the EU's most ambitious attempt to regain politics in a context in which serious tensions emerge within our societies. Reversing global warming is not feasible at the city, regional or national levels alone, but requires robust international cooperation. We need to keep municipalities, regions, national parliaments and the European Union together to identify which activities we must phase out and which ones need further investment. This opinion must reflect the realities of our territories and the role that cities and regions can and must have in implementing the strategy." The CoR opinion on the 2050 climate neutral strategy will be subject to a stakeholder consultation Tuesday 29 January chaired by Puglia's President and rapporteur Michele Emiliano. The draft opinion will be adopted by the ENVE commission meeting next 4 April and by the CoR Plenary Session of 26-27 June 2019.

Members had an exchange of views on the opinion 'Multilevel governance and cross-sectoral cooperation to fight energy poverty' by rapporteur Kata Tüttő (HU/PES). The Representative of Budapest District 12 said: "It is time to define common targets for eliminating energy poverty in Europe. We must urgently consider the troubling social and health implications of energy poverty and find solutions that are permanent and sustainable." The rapporteur stressed the importance of the work undergone within the Covenant of Mayors, especially as it has introduced the fight against energy poverty as one of its priorities. About 57 million people do not have adequate heating in Europe while 52 million face delays in paying energy bills, recalled rapporteur Tüttő. The opinion's stakeholder consultation will take place 7 February 2019. Final adoption is scheduled at the CoR Plenary Session of 26-27 June 2019.

Members discussed the outcomes of COP24 and the IPCC's report on global warming of 1.5 degrees.

Cor Lamers (NL/EPP), Mayor of Schiedam and Chair of the ENVE commission declared: "There is no doubt that we succeeded in raising the profile of local governments in Katowice. The referral to national governments to take into account the outcomes of Talanoa Dialogues and include sub-national authorities while defining and executing climate strategies is clear evidence. In the upcoming months, we need to be very active by extending our political messages and strengthening our cooperation with all relevant actors. We reiterate the imperative need to raise national climate ambition and we believe that only the joint action at all levels of government can lead us to success."

Andrew Cooper (UK/EA), member of the UK's Kirklees council and rapporteur of the CoR opinion on Climate Governance after 2020 said: "We must defend the results of COP24 and the precise call to national governments to involve local and regional authorities while defining their national action plans." Member of the European Parliament Jytte Guteland (SE/S&D) underlined the successful cooperation with the CoR during COP24 and stressed that more such joint efforts are needed to meet the targets set by the Paris agreement.

This year, the opening event of the Green Week 2019 will take place in Warsaw on 13 May and will be hosted by CoR member Adam Struzik (PL/EPP), President of the Mazovia Region. Green Week will take place from 13 to 17 May and will focus on applying environmental legislation.

Roby Biwer (LU/PES), Member of Bettembourg Municipal Council, presented the outcome of his participation, last November, to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity - CBD COP14 in Sharm-El-Sheik, Egypt. Roby Biwer declared: "Our presence was extremely useful and appreciated. Not only the CoR's opinion on the post 2020 EU Biodiversity Strategy was particularly well received and distributed to participants for discussion. Our proposal to integrate the contribution of biodiversity and ecosystem services to human health within the new targets of the post-Aichi decade 2020-2030 was exceedingly well welcomed. Roby Biwer's opinion 'Contribution of EU cities and regions to the CBD COP14 and the post 2020 EU Biodiversity Strategy' was adopted by the CoR at its 131st  Plenary Session held in Brussels from 8 to 10 October 2018. Rapporteur Biwer will present the opinion's recommendations to the European Parliament's Intergroup on
"Climate Change, Biodiversity, and Sustainable Development" on 30 January 2019.

The ENVE commission has appointed rapporteurs for three new opinions:

Sirpa Hertell (FI/EPP), Member of Espoo City Council, will be rapporteur of a non-legislative opinion on "Sustainable Europe by 2030, follow-up to the UN Sustainable Development Goals: The Paris Agreement on Climate Change."

Witold Stępień (PL/EPP), President of Łódzkie Region from 2010 to 2018 and now Member of the Łódzkie Regional Assembly, will lead the CoR's own-initiative opinion on "Implementing the Paris Agreement through innovative and sustainable energy transition at regional and local level."

The Vice-President of County Council of Tolna Megye, József Ribányi (HU/EPP) has been appointed rapporteur of a CoR own-initiative opinion on "Implementing the Clean Energy Package: the Integrated National Energy and Climate Plans (INECPs) as a tool for a transversal approach to climate, active and passive energy."

The next ENVE commission meeting will take place 4 April in Brussels.

At the upcoming Plenary Session 6-7 February 2019, CoR members will debate and vote Cor Lamers (NL/EPP) opinion 'Towards an 8th Environment Action Programme'.

Background information  

The photos of the 22nd ENVE Commission meeting are available here. Please click here to access the webpage and the meeting's agenda.

'A Clean Planet for all – A European strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy'. Full strategy (EN) published by the European Commission 28/11/2018. EC press release.

Report on energy prices and costs in Europe | 9 January 2019 - European Commission.

Read here the CoR's COP24 highlights and COP24 final press release.

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