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Climate change: local leaders back "Global Strike for Future" and call for a carbon-neutral EU by 2050  
​​In Bucharest, cities and regions back "Youth for Climate" movement and call on the EU for more climate ambition and investment to keep global warming well below 2°C

EU cities and regions have backed the " Global Strike for Future " protests, expected to gather hundreds of thousands of young people worldwide tomorrow 15 March to demand more urgent measures to tackle global warming. During the (Re)New EUrope Summit in Bucharest, local and regional leaders reiterated their call for the EU to step up its efforts, commit to keeping temperatures warming well below 2°C and commit to delivering a carbon-neutral Europe by 2050. Since August 2018, thousands of students have been taking the streets in more than 30 countries worldwide calling for additional measures to tackle climate change. Global CO2 emissions hit an all-time high in 2018.

The most recent scientific report on climate change, published by the UN's IPCC in November 2018 , shows that there are less than 20 years left to avoid a climate catastrophe that will make global warming unmanageable. Under current trends, global temperatures will warm by 3°C by 2100, irreversibly damaging our biodiversity and making severe weather insurmountable, scientist warn.
   

Referring to a recent statement given by the 16 year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg in Brussels, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the European Committee of the Regions, declared: " Young people are taking the streets with a simple demand: for world leaders to uphold their climate commitments made in Paris. It is locally where the fight against climate change will be won, and cities and regions are surpassing national ambition. The EU has set targets and is increasing investment, but still it isn't enough: we need to do more to enable regions and cities to make the transition, create green jobs, become energy efficient and cut more emissions. The science is clear, the young people have done their homework, and now it's up to us to protect the planet and their future which is the reason we are demanding a carbon-neutral Europe by 2050 ".

Speaking at the (Re)New EUrope Summit , which includes 150 young locally elected politicians and represents the largest gathering of EU local and regional leaders since COP21 in Paris, the European Committee of the Regions' First Vice-President Markku Markkula, said: " No one alone can overcome climate change: we all need to act and contribute. The only way to succeed is if every level of government operates together with industry and businesses, unleashing high quality innovation. We need to mainstream the UN's sustainable development goals into policy but we need more than words, we need investments. EU and public funds can help co-finance the clean energy transition. However, above all else, we need to create the right environment locally letting and encouraging sustainable businesses flourish ."

Global CO2 emissions hit an all-time high in 2018. This triggered climate activist Greta Thunberg to launch the global movement "Youth for Climate" which has instigated students across the globe to protest every week demanding more action on climate change.

Taking part in the session " EU cities and regions building a sustainable future " at the Bucharest summit, CoR Member Vasco Alves Cordeiro (PT/PES), President of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions and of the Regional Government of Azores, Portugal, declared: "It is necessary that all of us, at every level of power, understands that the climate challenges we are facing are not issues of the future. These are present and existing defies whose effects we are already enduring and that will only be overcome if we act collectively and in a concerted way. This is what young people are asking us to do: to work together today to guarantee the future to which young generations are entitled to. European regions are leading by example, but it is necessary that the EU and its international partners do not diminish their level of climate ambition."

Intervening in Bucharest, Magnus Berntsson, President of the Assembly of European Regions and of R20 - Regions of Climate Action and Vice-President of the Regional Council of Västra Götaland, Sweden, said: "Regional and local governments of Europe and around the world fully endorse the Paris Agreement and call for ambitious climate actions. We’re part of the solution. In our local communities, we understand our citizens' needs and join forces with local businesses and academia to create green growth and jobs to replace what’s lost in the transition. By working together and sharing good examples we will prevail. This is also what the younger generation demand of us."

Note to editors:

Re (New) Europe is the title of the 8th European Summit of Regions and Cities. On 14-15 March, more than 500 European, national, regional and local leaders from all Member States are in Bucharest to debate the future of Europe and the role of regions and cities in a renewed European Union. The Summit will gather high-level representatives, including the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, Romania's Prime Minister, Viorica Dăncilă and the EU's Chief Negotiator for Brexit Michel Barnier .

The Summit will conclude with the adoption of a Declaration by local and regional leaders on Building the EU from the ground up with our regions and cities . The Declaration will be formally handed over to the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis. The appeal will serve as the position of regions and cities to the leaders of the EU institutions and Heads of State and Government who will gather in Sibiu, Romania, on 9 May to discuss the future of the EU.

Along with governance and democracy, cohesion and the impact of Brexit on regional economies, the Bucharest summit has put sustainable development on top of the agenda in a session that is to demonstrate how cities and regions are delivering climate action on the ground. Click here to discover some of the sustainable initiatives EU cities and regions are currently implementing.

Regions and cities acting on climate change

Europe's energy transition and the decarbonisation of the economy are a top priority for EU cities and regions. The European Committee of the Regions– the EU's assembly of 350 elected local and regional politicians - is currently working on two formal EU opinions to foster the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals in Europe. At its next plenary session on 26-27 June, EU's assembly of local and regional representatives is expected to adopt an opinion on the EU climate-neutral strategy , released by the European Commission in November 2018 .

CoR press releases on climate change:

Contact:

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