The 7th meeting of the European Committee of the Regions' Green Deal Going Local Working Group focused on the role of subnational governments to effectively deliver on the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement. Members also exchanged views on the new European Commission's Horizon Europe mission on 100 Climate-Neutral Cities by 2030 and the future of the Covenant of Mayors, the world's largest city coalition on climate action. During a plenary session debate with Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, next Wednesday 13 October, the European Committee of the Regions will debate and adopt its resolution on COP26, which gathers the key messages that EU cities and regions will put on the table of the global climate negotiations. The UN's climate summit is due to kick off in Glasgow on 31 October 2021.
Isabelle Boudineau (FR/PES), Vice-President of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region, chaired the 7th meeting of the Green Deal Going Local working group. In her introduction, the chair of the CoR's COTER commission stressed that "Today, the climate crisis is reflected in a severe energy price crisis which calls into question the purchasing power of Europeans. Our discussions today have shown that in the face of these global problems, we need to develop local solutions. Thanks to the European Commission’s programmes, such as the 100 climate-neutral cities mission, regions and cities will be able to implement the ecological transition and thus reduce the energy bill of all Europeans, wherever they live. But this funding will only be sufficient if regions and cities are fully involved in the recovery plan and use cohesion policy in coherence with it."
The meeting also included a discussion on COP26 with Yunus Arikan, ICLEI's Director of Global Advocacy, who said: "The success of the Paris agreement depends on its implementation on the ground. Every nation should raise their climate ambition and deliver collectively with subnational authorities. As members of the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) constituency, we are calling on the Parties to explicitly commit to multi-level collaboration. The Paris climate agreement cannot be delivered without an effective collaboration with regional and local authorities." The LGMA constituency has represented networks of local and regional governments worldwide at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) since the first Conference of Parties (COP) in 1995.
Hanna Zdanowska (PL/EPP), Mayor of Łódź, said: "As a member of the European Committee of the Regions' delegation to COP26 in Glasgow, I will actively participate in various meetings to ensure that the voice of cities and regional authorities is heard loud and clear. We must convince decision-makers that local governments should be a permanent partner in planning and delivering climate solutions. The pace of environmental degradation and ambitious climate goals impose responsibility to deliver a green transformation. It can only be successful if local and regional authorities become an equal partner of the United Nations and of national authorities, also in terms of climate commitments."
Providing feedback from the Pre-COP meetings that took place in Milan, Arianna Censi (IT/PES), Member of Milan Municipal Council, said: "The climate crisis has a significant impact on the economy and citizens' well-being, while also threatening global stability. Milan is creating a strong European network to respond to this emergency through wide-ranging coordinated actions and citizens' involvement. Recently, the Metropolitan City organised a series of events ahead of COP26, including a CoR Climate Pact conference, to bring attention to the youth's role in fighting the climate crisis and to present to EU delegates, media and stakeholders, the results we obtained so far, in particular to counter water risks."
Vincent Chauvet (FR/Renew Europe), Mayor of Autun and CoR rapporteur on 'Stepping up Europe’s 2030 climate ambition towards COP26', said: "This year's COP difficult context makes it even more clear that ambitious carbon emission cuts towards 2030 and 2050 need to be brought forward by all nations. But the ultimate success of the Paris Agreement and the national targets depends on what happens in our cities and villages. We, as representatives of these territories have a big say on how implementation is already being done and which conditions need to be met for subnational authorities to be able to act. This is what we intend to bring forward in Glasgow."
József Kóbor (HU/EA), Mayor of Pécs, stressed: "In my city, Pécs, located in southwest Hungary, the average temperature has increased more than 2° Celsius in the last 40 years. This has led to the destruction of vegetation, such as black pines planted in the early twentieth century. Urgent action is needed. If the role and action of local governments are not formally recognized and accounted for, we will not be able to close the emissions gap. We need to make sure that Nationally Determined Contributions include an aggregation of Regional and Locally Determined Contributions."
Tjisse Stelpstra (NL/ECR), Regional minister of the Province of Drenthe, said: "We cannot afford to waste time in the fight against climate change. Coming from The Netherlands, a country with 26% of its land below sea level, climate change mitigation and adaptation is essential for our survival. The transition to a climate resilient world comes with some of the greatest challenges of our time, but the implementation guidelines for the Paris Agreement must strengthen multi-level cooperation and respect different socio-economic realities."
Bernd Voss (DE/Greens), Member of Schleswig-Holstein State Parliament, intervened during the COP26 debate stressing that "Local and regional authorities put climate action into practice and can make or break the green transition. Funds and clear information need to be made available and they must be used in an effective and timely manner. As global climate governance might appear distant, local and regional authorities must also have a clear vision of long-term actions, tools and support to effectively implement the different fields of the European Green Deal. Most importantly, a rapid expansion of renewable energy sources is needed."
Philippe Froissard, Head of Unit of Future Urban and Mobility Systems at DG Research and Innovation in the European Commission, presented the new Horizon Europe mission on 100 Climate-Neutral Cities by 2030. With the support of EU funding programmes, the European Investment Bank Group and private investors, the European Commission aims at supporting 100 selected cities to reach climate-neutrality by 2030. The call for expressions of interest will be open the second half of November 2021.
The discussion on the Covenant of Mayors included statements from CoR Member Rafał Trzaskowski (PL/EPP), Mayor of Warsaw and member of the Political Board of the Covenant, Karlis Goldstein, Member of Commissioner Simson's private office and Laurent Bontoux, Senior Expert, Foresight, Modelling, Behavioural Insights & Design for Policy from the Joint Research Centre (JRC), who shared the outcomes of the first strategic Foresight on City Greening organised by the Covenant of Mayors, the JRC and the CoR.
The 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will take place from 31 October to 12 November 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. As part of the European Union delegation to COP26, the European Committee of the Regions will be present at COP26 to actively advocate for a stronger role of subnational governments in international climate governance.
On Wednesday 13 October, from 15.00 to 16.00, the European Committee of the Regions will debate and adopt its official position on COP26 during a plenary session debate with Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries. You can read here the draft resolution of EU cities and regions on the global climate negotiations COP26.
Please visit the European Committee of the Regions COP26 web portal.
The CoR's Green Deal Going Local working group was launched in June 2020 with three specific objectives: To provide a crosscutting view on the numerous policy areas within the European Green Deal and, to reinforce the institutional outreach of the European Committee of the Regions on the Green Deal as to place cities and regions at the core of the path towards climate-neutrality and to channel the challenges that local and regional authorities are facing while implementing the green transition locally. Click here to access the composition and latest news on the CoR's Green Deal Going Local working group.
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