Europe will not reach climate neutrality by 2050 without its cities and regions  

​​National Energy and Climate Plans fail to integrate local and regional governments

Ahead of the first sitting of the new European Parliament, public opinion is increasingly shaping the climate debate. As weekly protests recall, climate ambition is currently insufficient to reverse global warming. Likewise, EU cities and regions are calling for higher targets and resources to fast track Europe's sustainable energy transition. On Member States' National Energy and Climate Plans, the CoR denounces a lack of permanent multi-level dialogue with local and regional governments as specified by the Energy Union Governance.

The European Committee of the Regions has adopted by unanimity the opinion of Michele Emiliano (IT/PES), President of the Puglia region, concerning "A Clean Planet for all A European strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy". The opinion includes a set of proposals that contribute to the EU 2050 climate neutral strategy presented by the European Commission in November 2018.

The President of the European Committee of the Regions, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, said: "Europe will not reach climate neutrality without the involvement of cities and regions. The governance of the Energy Union calls on Member States to establish permanent multi-level dialogues that involve local and regional authorities in the definition of National Energy and Climate Plans. Yet, they have clearly fallen short. If the EU is to successfully make the clean energy transition happen, it is critical that all Member States commit to a climate neutral Europe by 2050 and not least, permanently involve local and regional authorities in developing their climate and energy actions plans."

The European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, said: "I want to congratulate regional and local leaders for their important work on climate, energy and sustainable development. Many regions and cities have set more ambitious 2030 targets than their respective national governments. With more than 9 000 cities, the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy is the biggest initiative of cities and towns, provinces and regions that deliver the energy transition. We are now proposing better funding opportunities for cities and regions to implement both climate mitigation and adaptation measures, amongst which 35% of Horizon Europe, the new five billion LIFE programme in addition to InvestEU –the successor to the European Fund for Strategic Investments – for which we propose 30% to support climate objectives."

​Rapporteur Michele Emiliano (IT/PES) President of the Puglia Region said: "Cities and regions are contributing to setting an historic path towards a clean planet for all. The climate emergency affects us all and places heavy responsibility on our shoulders. My opinion adopted today at the plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions affirms the necessity to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest. Regions and cities are ready to do their part. However, we cannot say the same for the European Council as some Member States failed to commit to this objective last week. We need a bottom-up approach if we want to really tackle the climate crisis and create a fairer and more sustainable Europe, which leaves no one behind."

The CoR asks to raise the share of the EU budget spent on climate to at least 30%, recalling the importance of an effective “energy taxation" to ensure a coordinated, coherent and timely response to climate change.

Members support revising the 32% target for renewable energy at EU level in the light of technological developments with a view to reaching 40% by 2030 in order to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

The CoR proposes to create a "European climate neutrality observatory", aimed at mapping and monitoring the vulnerabilities of the different territories to the energy transition. Members declare their availability to cooperate with the European Commission on a structure for technical exchanges regarding the implementation of the Clean Energy Package.

The EU's Assembly of cities and regions requests to systematically involve regions and local authorities in the implementation of SDGs, the Paris agreement and COP25 preparatory work, including a CoR representative as observer in all UNFCCC bodies.

The CoR's opinion emphasises the need to reinforce the link between climate policies and air quality and the direct impact these have on citizens' health. Decarbonisation is the most effective preventive policy for protecting citizens' health, members agree. The European Environment Agency estimates 483 000 premature deaths occur in Europe every year due to air pollution.

Member States presented drafts of their National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) last 31 December 2018.

NECPs include countries' planning tools to contribute to the implementation of the Energy Union objectives, mainly the 2030 energy and climate targets. Last week, the European Commission presented NECPs country assessments.  Final NECPs need to be delivered by the end of this year.

​Background information.

Photos of the Plenary Session can be downloaded here.

The Governance of the Energy Union specifies that "Member States should establish a permanent multi-level energy dialogue platform gathering local authorities, civil society organisations, business community, investors and other relevant stakeholders to discuss the different options envisaged for energy and climate policies. Integrated national energy and climate plans as well as long-term climate and energy strategies should be discussed within the framework of that platform." Governance of the Energy Union (January 2018).

You will find here the EC press release announcing the assessment of NECPs and here the analysis per country. On the basis of this analysis, MS will now revise their strategies and submit final versions by 31 December 2019 at the latest.

On 28 November 2018, the Commission presented its strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate-neutral economy by 2050.

The strategy shows how Europe can lead the way to climate neutrality by investing into realistic technological solutions, empowering citizens, and aligning action in key areas such as industrial policy, finance, or research – while ensuring social fairness for a just transition.

Following the invitations by the European Parliament and the European Council, the Commission's vision for a climate-neutral future covers nearly all EU policies and is in line with the Paris Agreement objective to keep the global temperature increase to well below 2°C and pursue efforts to keep it to 1.5°C.

A Clean Planet for all - A European strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy

In-depth analysis accompanying the Communication

Press release: Commission calls for a climate-neutral Europe by 2050

Questions and Answers: Long-term strategy for Clean Planet for All

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