Subnational governments deliver 70 % of climate mitigation measures and 90 % of climate adaptation policies. Their contribution must finally be recognised to avert the climate emergency
The European Committee of the Regions adopted a resolution on COP26 setting out its climate demands two weeks before UN's climate negotiations in Glasgow. As the world faces unprecedented heat waves, floods, hurricanes and sea level rises, EU local leaders called on the UN and national governments to formally acknowledge, monitor and encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by cities, local governments and regions worldwide. Higher climate ambition, transparency and accountability in reducing GHG emissions and climate finance for the most vulnerable are the three key aspects on the table in Glasgow.
The Committee – the EU's assembly of elected local regional leaders - recalls that the 2016 Paris Agreement recognises the vital role of multilevel governance in climate policies and the need to engage with regions and cities. The Committee therefore calls for this principle to be put into practice and subnational governments' climate commitments to be accounted for by launching a system of Regionally and Locally Determined Contributions (RLDCs) that acknowledges, monitors and encourages the reduction of GHG emissions by cities, local governments and regions globally.
Apostolos Tzitzikostas, President of the European Committee of the Regions and Governor of the region of Central Macedonia in Greece, said: "The world is simply off track to avert the climate emergency. Subnational government's commitments must be taken on board and be given a formal seat in the climate negotiations. I call on the European Commission's Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans as the EU's negotiator to ensure the regional and local dimension is included in the COP26 conclusions. We can no longer afford to ignore the fundamental role and resources that regions, cities and villages need to deliver climate action, or we will continue to fail our young people and our planet."
The COP26 resolution was adopted during a plenary session debate with Virginijus Sinkevičius, EU commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, who said: "We need a major effort from Europe’s regions and municipalities to help deliver a 55 percent cut in emissions by 2030. Challenging areas to decarbonise, like buildings, need local solutions. The recent spike in global energy prices reinforces the need for greater shares of renewable energy and more efficient use of energy. The new Social Climate Fund is to provide dedicated funding to help citizens finance investments in energy efficiency. Regional authorities have a crucial role in the implementation of global climate goals".
During the debate, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability Vice President and Mayor of Turku Minna Arve, said: "Cities and their leaders need to become true partners in a multi-level governance system. They must be enabled to contribute to the shaping of the legal, fiscal and financial frameworks that rule the implementation of their ambitious local strategies. Only on this path, we will be able to move fast from plans and strategies to real action. Together we can deliver progress on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement.”
Vincent Chauvet (FR/ Renew Europe), Mayor of Autun and rapporteur of the opinion Stepping up Europe’s 2030 climate ambition towards COP26, said: "Our message stands: multi-level climate governance is the solution to deliver truly effective climate mitigation and adaptation actions. It is also crucial to drive higher climate ambition and push national governments to raise their climate commitments. It is our responsibility to continue working towards a formal recognition of cities' and region's ability to contribute to the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement, highlighting what we, as local and regional authorities, need in order to deliver climate action."
The Committee gave the example of the Edinburgh Declaration on biodiversity, signed by President Tzitzikostas today following its adoption by the Bureau. The Edinburgh Declaration on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework sets out the aspirations and commitments of the subnational governments in protecting and enhancing biodiversity over the coming decade. During the debate, the Committee's President also called on its members to take action, launching its campaign – Green Deal: Going Local – which sets 10 actions for local leaders to deliver. One of the activities is to plant trees, which will contribute to the European Commission's 3 billion pledge by 2030 proposal.
The resolution highlights that many European regions and cities have already declared a climate emergency and adopted more ambitious climate commitments than their countries. In addition, the Committees calls on the UNFCCC Parties to make it obligatory for national governments to consult and involve local and regional authorities during the drafting of their climate submission.
Information on the CoR activities during COP26 can be found in our dedicated portal.
The CoR is contributing to accelerating climate action in cities and regions and the rollout of the European Green Deal in every territory through its flagship initiative Green Deal Going Local. Europe-wise, the CoR reiterates its call for EU funds to be accessed directly by local and regional authorities to implement local and regional Green Deal projects.
The CoR delegation to COP26 is composed of:
- Apostolos Tzitzikostas, President of the European Committee of the Regions. Governor of Central Macedonia Region, Greece.
- Juan Espadas (ES/PES), Mayor of Seville, Spain. Chair of the CoR’s Commission for Environment, Climate Change and Energy (ENVE) and of the Green Deal Going Local Working Group. Climate Pact Ambassador and Spanish Ambassador of the Covenant of Mayors.
- Hanna Zdanowska (PL/EPP), Mayor of Łódź, Poland. Member of the CoR's Green Deal Going Local Working Group. Climate Pact Ambassador and Polish Ambassador of the Covenant of Mayors.
- Kata Tüttő (HU/PES), Deputy-Mayor of Budapest, Hungary. CoR rapporteur on 'Energy Poverty ' and 'Gender equality and climate change '. Climate Pact Ambassador and Hungarian Ambassador of the Covenant of Mayors.
- Vincent Chauvet (FR/Renew Europe), Mayor of Autun, France. CoR rapporteur on 'Stepping up Europe’s 2030 climate ambition towards COP26 ', Member of the CoR's Green Deal Going Local Working Group and Climate Pact Ambassador.
- Andries Gryffroy (BE/EA), Member of the Flemish Parliament, Belgium. CoR Rapporteur on 'The impact of climate change on regions: an assessment of the European Green ' and on the ' Revision of the Renewable Energy Directive '. Climate Pact Ambassador and Belgian Ambassador of the Covenant of Mayors.
- Jakub Piotr Chełstowski (PL/ECR), President of the Śląskie voivodeship, Poland.
- Marieke Schouten (NL/The Greens), Alderman of Nieuwegein, The Netherlands. CoR Rapporteur on the 'EU Action Plan Towards Zero Pollution for Air, Water and Soil '. Climate Pact Ambassador.
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