Less than one month ahead of COP27 - the United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC), the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) has renewed its calls for sub-national governments to have a stronger role in global climate negotiations and further recognition in the implementation of the Paris agreement. The CoR proposes a global system to collect and monitor cities' and regions' carbon emission reductions, and calls on Member States and the Council of the EU to unequivocally support the inclusion, within the COP27 conclusions, of the urgent need for multilevel cooperation action and for the full involvement of local and regional authorities in the implementation of the Paris agreement.
Following a summer of massive droughts, floods and fires across the EU and with soaring energy prices, inflation and millions of Europeans threaten to fall into energy poverty this winter, the energy and climate crisis is on top of the discussions at the CoR's October plenary session and the 2022 European Week of Regions and Cities.
Ahead of the UN climate conference that is to kick off in Sharm El Sheikh on 6 November, CoR members held a plenary debate on the role of subnational authorities at COP27 with the Vice-Chair of the ENVI committee at the European Parliament Bas Eickhout, the Mayor of Utrecht at ICLEI envoy at COP27 Sharon Dijksma and the Mayor of Chefchaouen and ICLEI regional chair for Africa and Mohamed Sefiani.
Opening the debate, Vasco Alves Cordeiro, President of the European Committee of the Regions, said: “The climate crisis is becoming more and more evident to everybody's eyes: we need to act urgently and move from commitments to achievements. What will be decided at COP27 will shape climate and energy policies and have an impact on all local and regional authorities. This year's COP27 takes place in the midst of the energy crisis, a crisis exacerbated by Putin's war against Ukraine, but that is something we should have tackled already decades ago by shifting towards a climate-neutral economy. The European Committee of the Regions will be very vocal at COP27 and continue to work to reinforce its alliances at EU and global level to achieve this goal.”
Rafał Trzaskowski (PL/EPP), Mayor of Warsaw and new chair of the CoR's ENVE commission and of the Green Deal Going Local working group, said: “Thanks to a massive investment in LED lightning on the streets of Warsaw, we have reduced energy consumption and public spending substantially. Many other European cities and regions are committed to implement sustainable solutions that make local communities a healthier and better place to live in. We therefore call for direct funds to facilitate the work of local and regional authorities in accelerating the energy transition. Furthermore, we call for COP27 to take into account the voice of cities and regions and we welcome the support of the European Parliament for further multilevel cooperation. We now call on the European Commission’s Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans to fight for a stronger role for cities and regions at the COP27 negotiation table.” The European Parliament's ENVI COP27 resolution, voted on Monday 3 October, supports the CoR proposals for multilevel cooperation and a stronger role of cities and regions in the implementation of the Paris agreement.
Through opinions by Alison Gilliland (IE/PES) and Olgierd Geblewicz (PL/EPP), the EU's assembly of cities and regions aims at strengthening the role local and regional governments in global climate negotiations and the implementation of the Paris agreement. Sub-national authorities and city diplomacy can overcome current bottlenecks in global climate negotiations and demonstrate that higher ambition is possible to accelerate energy efficiency and the deployment of renewable energies as the only solution to tackle the current energy and climate crisis.
Dublin city councillor, Alison Gilliland (IE/PES), rapporteur of the opinion 'Towards a structural inclusion of Cities and Regions in UNFCCC COP 27', said: “Our ecosystems are damaged and fragile and many impacts of the climate crisis are already irreversible. We cannot allow the war and the energy crisis to stop the just transition towards a cleaner and more sustainable planet. Cities and regions need more direct finance and greater support to reach our climate goals. As defined by the Glasgow Climate Pact, we need inclusive governance and we call on all CoR members to be proactive in pushing their national delegations for an explicit reference in the Council Conclusions on the key role that subnational authorities play in this transition.”
Olgierd Geblewicz (PL/EPP), President of West Pomerania Region and rapporteur of the opinion 'The CoR's role in boosting subnational climate diplomacy ahead of COP27 and COP28', said: “Sub-national and city diplomacy are not sufficiently recognised nor exploited. Cities and regions are at the forefront in dealing with the consequences of climate change but also of climate solutions. Local and regional authorities are instruments for citizen engagement and community empowerment, without which we cannot deliver on the promises of the Paris agreement. We call on the European Commission to engage local and regional authorities as ambassadors of citizens in climate negotiations. As the EU's assembly of cities and regions, the CoR stands ready to become the institution that coordinates sub-national climate diplomacy with EU partner countries.”
Jakub Piotr Chełstowski (PL/ECR), president of the Śląskie Voivodeship and CoR rapporteur on the ‘Energy package on gas, hydrogen and methane emissions’, also took part in the debate, stressing that: “The New Gas Package and the Methane Regulation are key to the strategic objectives of the European Green Deal, as well as the ‘Fit for 55’ package and REPowerEU. Developing markets for hydrogen and biomethane and reducing methane emissions is also crucial for our regional economies and for keeping up with our climate ambition.”
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