CoR to launch Forum of cities and regions, the European Commission and Member States to implement Green Deal
The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) has set out its demands for the European Green Deal, which it believes must be met to reach climate neutrality by 2050. From energy to mobility, agriculture, biodiversity, digitalisation and the circular economy, the Committee argues that the Green Deal needs a clear action plan with measurable objectives, targeted actions, and appropriate funding, prepared together with local and regional authorities – if Europe is to respond to the climate emergency.
In a debate with Frans Timmermans, the newly appointed European Commission Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, the CoR called on the EU to keep global warming below 1.5°C by setting out an ambitious legislative and financial package that supports all regions and cities in delivering transitions, putting sustainability at the heart of all the policy-making. The resolution adopted in Brussels shortly before the European Commission unveils plans for the Green Deal on 11 December, calls on the EU to enshrine into law a commitment to being carbon-neutral by 2050, upgrading its energy, climate and environmental objectives and offer sufficient funding to support regions and cities.
Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the European Committee of the Regions, said: “We can no longer close our eyes to the climate emergency. The European Green Deal is the last opportunity for Europe to be credible, uphold its international obligations and offer a clear path to carbon-neutrality by 2050. The EU must green all its policies and investments, ensuring a just transition that supports every region and city. Local and regional governments must be a fully-fledged partner and player, backed with real investment. The current EU budget proposals, including cuts to cohesion policy, will undermine regions' and cities' efforts to accelerate climate action. Time is running out, we must not dither and we must act together. If the green transition does not start in our cities and regions, it will not happen at all."
Frans Timmermans, the European Commission Executive Vice-President, warned of inaction and said: "All levels of government will have to play their role if we want to succeed in shaping our collective future: this is not something that national governments can do alone. Cities and regions have a huge role to play in the fundamental transformation that the Green Deal is to drive in our society. From emissions-free transport to biodiversity protection, from energy efficiency in buildings to greening our cities and reforestation, we need every single one of you. We won't reach the objectives of the Green Deal without local and regional authorities."
Young elected politicians share demands
During the plenary debate, a group of young elected politicians presented their demands for Europe to Executive Vice-President Timmermans and President Lambertz. A representative of the 'Young Elected Politician (YEPs) United 4 Climate' programme, Marina Grech, a local city councillor in Qormi, Malta, said, "We, young leaders, work hard in our local communities to make a liveable and sustainable future for ourselves and our children. United, we come together across parties and across European countries. If I, as 19 years old can take action and if I can stand here today to make our voice heard, so can you."
The CoR will be present at the COP25 in Madrid this week to champion the role of cities and regions in accelerating climate action.
Watch the full debate. Photos of the plenary here.
The Green Deal in partnership with local and regional authorities: Key recommendations
Raise EU targets & ambition
Limit global warming to 1.5 °C, legal commitment to EU carbon-neutrality by 2050 & raise EU GHG reduction target to at least 55%, energy efficiency target to 40% and renewable energy to 40%, by 2030.
2030 waste targets: recycling of municipal waste to 70%, food waste reduction by 50% and maximum 5% landfilling.
Main stream sustainability, work with local & regional governments
Clear plan: A Green Deal agenda with measurable objectives and targeted actions and funding, prepared together with cities and regions in the framework of implementing the UN's SDGs. Progress should be monitored through the EU's State of the Union process.
Launch Multilevel Climate and Energy Dialogues: involve local and regional authorities in the National Energy and Climate Plans, whist developing Locally and Regionally Determined Contributions.
New Green Deal Forum: CoR will launch a Forum of local and regional authorities to cooperate with the European Commission and Member States to review Green Deal implementation.
Sustainable EU: sustainability mainstreamed in all EU policies, macroeconomic priorities and financial instruments, the European Semester and EU budget post-2020.
Trade: EU trade agreements assessed against the objective of reducing GHG & sustainability.
Sustainable farming: strengthen financial aid for climate-friendly practices in both Common Agriculture Policy pillars.
Mobility: EU measures to ensure a better level playing field, including review of tax arrangements for certain fuels.
Environmental transition: call for an 8th Environment Action Programme aligned with the Green Deal; EU needs more ambitious air and water quality policies, hazardous chemicals and pesticides in order to deliver an EU-zero pollution.
Financing the Green Deal
New resources: support Carbon Border, extend the Emissions Trading System & tax aviation fuel.
Just Transition Fund: new resources in addition EU cohesion policy funds.
Green EU budget post-2020: at least 30% of the EU budget post-2020 earmarked for climate and biodiversity action, phasing out subsidies for fossil fuels; funds for cohesion policy remain the same.
Contingency funds: financial support for the Green Deal if the EU Budget is not agreed by 2020.
State aid: increase permissible state aid & Energy Taxation Directive to promote low emission fuels.
EU subsidies, aid and support programmes that harm the environment should be abolished.
Finance housing renovations: calls for an EU Action plan for affordable housing to fight energy poverty, together with an ambitious financing plan for housing renovation.
Communicating with citizens
Conference on the Future of Europe: European Commission should co-organise citizens dialogues with the CoR, focussed on the Green Deal and climate change.