Empowering cities and regions and engaging citizens in climate action is key for the success of the EU's strategy to leave Russian fossil-fuels behind
While the EU is focusing on reducing its energy dependence from Russian fossil fuels through
REPowerEU,cities and regions remain crucial to speed up the deployment of renewable energies and improve energy efficiency while ensuring citizens' engagement and support through open participatory processes. In an event organised by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the European Commission (EC), local and regional leaders have shared their experiences in delivering the European Green Deal locally – including through EU flagship initiatives such as the
Covenant of Mayors
European Climate Pact
. The meeting also included a presentation of
Green Deal Going Local
, the CoR campaign to place cities and regions at the heart of the EU's transition towards climate-neutrality.
The war in Ukraine is changing energy geopolitics worldwide, with rising
energy prices greatly affecting local and regional authorities' capacity to
deliver the clean transition on the ground. In this context, The European
Commission and the European Committee of the Regions have joined forces on
2 May 2022 to update local and regional leaders on key EU initiatives
designed to support their efforts on climate and energy - such as the
Covenant of Mayors
European Climate Pact.
Opening the event,
(HU/PES), Deputy Mayor of Budapest,
CoR Climate Pact Ambassador
, Chairwoman of the
CoR's ENVE commission
and of the Green Deal Going Local
"Energy security is not an excuse to step back from our EU Green Deal
objectives. The REPowerEU plan is our pathway to secure affordable and
sustainable energy. Both climate and the energy crises are global
problems that need local solutions. All European regions, from the
largest to the smallest, from cities to rural areas, need to be
involved in this energy and climate transition to protect all people,
including the most vulnerable."
"We need to develop more financial instruments for cities and
municipalities to speed up green finance and innovation"
said Andries Piebalgs, former Commissioner for Energy, who
also stressed the need to involve the citizens in the energy transition and
the key role the CoR plays in that endeavour. The Professor at the European
University Institute mentioned the
EU Energy Purchase Platform
, the new EC initiative for the common purchase of gas, LNG and hydrogen,
which first meeting took place on 8 April.
During his intervention,
(PL/EPP), Mayor of Warsaw and CoR
on the amending the Energy Efficiency Directive, called for "more ambition" and "
to prioritise actions to strengthen independence from Russian fossil
fuels while protecting vulnerable citizens from high energy prices"
. Warsaw is one of the 100 cities selected last week to take part in the
'100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030'
EU Missions program
, a novelty of the Horizon Europe research and innovation programme for
Bart Somers, Vice-Minister-President of the Government of Flanders and former CoR
member, underlined that:
"The climate crisis is the biggest challenge of our time. But one thing
is certain: the solutions for this global challenge will take shape
locally. It is in our cities and municipalities that this challenge
becomes tangible. That is where we renovate our houses, plant trees and
build cycle paths. That is where we can mobilize citizens and
organisations. And that is why in Flanders we launched the « local
energy and climate pact »: a pact that brings together citizens,
companies and local governments around concrete targets. Hopefully it
can be an inspiration for other regions in Europe."
Also representing the Flemish region,
(BE/EA), member of the Flemish Parliament and
on the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive, stressed the active
involvement of Flemish municipalities in delivering climate action, with
almost all 300 having already joined the Covenant of Mayors and the Climate
(IT/PES), President of the Province of Lucca, Mayor of Capannori and CoR
Climate Pact Ambassador, highlighted:
"The Tuscany region committed in 2020 to climate neutrality by 2050
through the adoption of a regional strategy to massively reduce
emissions in various sectors and absorb them with the help of green
solutions. Tuscan cities, such as Capannori, are contributing with best
practices and innovative projects to achieve this goal at the local
level. To reach a synchronised transition, all regional and local
authorities need to be involved and considered in this process to take
advantage of all opportunities available."
Several local and regional leaders, members of the European Committee of
the Regions, shared their climate commitments and climate-neutral
The Mayor of Coulaines,
(FR/PES), recalled that the French municipality was the first from the
Hexagon to join the Covenant of Mayors, in 2007, having already reached 30%
of GHG emission reduction.
(IE/EA) stressed Ireland's 80% of fossil fuel imports and the need to
deploy additional means to deliver a just transition for the most
(RO/EPP), Mayor of Cluj-Napoca Municipality, highlighted the pressure
high-energy prices have on local administration's budgets as well as on
public procurement contractors and suppliers. The city of Cluj-Napoca is
one of the cities selected to take part in the initiative
'100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030'
(ECR/IT), President of the Veneto Regional Council, shared his concerns on
the impact energy prices are having on public procurement contracts and
stressed the need to diversity energy sources and to tackle increased
energy poverty as around 15% of additional households in the Veneto region
cannot afford paying energy bills.
The Mayor of Braga,
(PT/EPP), echoed the challenge of integrating higher energy costs into the
city's budget. The Portuguese Covenant of Mayor Ambassador listed some
priority actions the city is implementing such as installing solar panels
in public buildings, implementing a programme to decrease energy bills in
vulnerable households and increasing the existing 40% of the city's
Other local and regional leaders intervening today included
(PL/EPP), Mayor of Łódź,
(LT/PES), Mayor of Jonava District Municipality,
(FI/EPP), President of the Helsinki region,
(SI/EPP), Mayor of the Municipality of Novo Mesto,
(CY/PES), Councilor of Strovolos Municipality,
(LV/Renew Europe), Liepāja City Mayor,
(ET/Renew Europe), member of the Rakvere city council, and
(RO/EPP), Mayor of Cugir City.
In the afternoon session, participants discussed and shared best practices
to accelerate the green transition.
Clara de la Torre
, Deputy-Director General of DG CLIMA of the European Commission, said:
"As much as three quarters of Europeans live in cities and towns.
Cities are living labs for innovation and inspiration and remain
crucial for the success of the energy transition. The war in Ukraine
reminds us that the green transition needs to happen even more
Reinforcing the links and cooperation between climate action and the
European Year of Youth 2022
, several members of the CoR's
Young Elected Politicians (YEPs) programme
also took part in this event.
The CoR is supporting the further rollout of the Covenant of Mayors through
network of National Covenant Ambassadors
. The EU's assembly of cities and regions has also launched a network of
CoR Climate Pact Ambassadors
to support the EU's efforts to deploy participatory processes engaging
citizens in the clean energy transition.
During its 27-28 April plenary session, the European Committee of the
Regions adopted a
resolution on REPowerEU
together with a set of opinions contributing to the ongoing revision of the
Fit for 55 energy package
’ and the implementation of the
European Green Deal
at the local and regional level.
: on 8 March 2022, the European Commission proposed a plan to make Europe
independent from Russian fossil fuels well before 2030, seeking to
diversify gas supplies, speed up the rollout of renewable gases and replace
gas in heating and power generation, which could reduce demand for Russian
gas by two thirds before the end of the year.
Through Green Deal Going Local, the European Committee of the Regions is
committed to support cities’ and regions in the EU’s transition towards
Green Deal Going Local
is a flagship initiative of the European Committee of the Regions that aims
at placing cities and regions at the heart of the EU’s climate-neutral
transition. It includes several calls to action such as
Trees for Life
survey to collect the views of cities and regions on the challenges
and opportunities of implementing the European Green Deal locally
and a call for all local and regional authorities to
share their climate commitments
David Crous //
Theresa Sostmann //