The European Committee of the Regions and the Covenant of Mayors consolidate
their collaboration to revitalise energy and climate action towards 2030
On Thursday 30 March, the 2023 high-level conference of the Covenant of Mayors was the opportunity to reflect on how local authorities are responding to the energy crisis and protecting citizens and local business from soaring energy prices. The conference was the occasion to demonstrate that EU local and regional authorities are the ones driving the EU energy and climate ambition forward - while calling for direct funds and innovative financial instruments to make the European Green Deal go local.
Apostolos Tzitzikostas, First Vice-President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), opened the conference stressing that: "For the past year, EU cities and regions have been facing an unprecedented energy crisis, which is still affecting citizens and businesses heavily. The only way out is by investing in the Green Deal at the local and regional level. We need a new set of supporting instruments, including ambitious funding strategies and innovative financial mechanisms to speed up the energy transition and promote the implementation of the Green Deal with a place-based approach. The CoR, with its Green Deal Going Local initiative, is leading the way in this direction."
The Mayor of Warsaw, Rafał Trzaskowski (PL/EPP), Chair of the ENVE commission and of the Green Deal Going Local working group, said: "To overcome the energy crisis, we have to be courageous, involve our citizens and lead by example. We need to take care of vulnerable people suffering from energy poverty and increase our efforts to make buildings more energy efficient. We need direct EU funds to accelerate Europe's sustainable energy transition, which will not succeed without the full involvement of local and regional authorities."
Ariana Censi (IT/PES), Milan City Councillor, intervened in the debate on the deployment of disruptive measures in times of crisis, stressing that:"No one should ever have to choose between eating or heating. It is time to eradicate energy and mobility poverty at its roots, and not only help vulnerable groups pay their bills. We are convinced that tackling climate change is paramount and must be inseparable from fighting against social and territorial inequalities. Being climate neutral by 2050 means transforming fundamentally the way we work, our transports and our homes. Milan is showing that this is possible and that the European Green Deal is a fair and affordable solution."
Hanna Zdanowska (PL/EPP), Mayor of Łódź, took the floor highlighting that: "The solutions to solve the energy crisis are already here. It is about energy efficiency, renewable energies, smart buildings and social awareness. To maximise the opportunities to accelerate the clean energy transition, we must immediately implement at the European and national level a wide range of non-repayable forms to co-finance local investments."
The European Committee of the Regions is currently working on the opinion 'Fostering the potential and synergies of EU Green Deal initiatives for regions and cities'. The rapporteur is Andries Gryffroy (BE/EA), Member of the Flemish Parliament, who said: "The Covenant of Mayors has proved to be a robust and powerful initiative to mobilise local actors in order to reduce emissions and meet climate goals. In the current challenging context, it becomes even more important to find ways to better support cities, municipalities as they are the ones that make the transition a reality on the ground. We would like to see the Covenant grow stronger and focus on the implementation of locally tangible objectives set out by the municipalities based on their different needs and contexts. The Flanders Climate and Energy Pact, comprising many Flemish municipalities who are also signatories of the Covenant, is a case of best practice which we would like to become an inspiration for other local authorities in Europe".
Following the morning's high-level event, the CoR National Ambassadors and the European Commission met to discuss local and regional priorities on key issues closely linked with the priorities of EU local and regional governments, such as their involvement in the revision of Member States National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) in 2023. At the opening session, ENVE Chair Trzaskowski and COTER Commission Chair Emil Boc (RO/EPP), Mayor of Cluj-Napoca, handed over a letter signed by more than 40 cities to Adina Vălean, Commissioner for Transport, supporting the EU mission on 100 climate neutral cities.
Launched in 2008, the Covenant of Mayors is the world's largest movement for climate and energy actions, gathering more than 10,000 local and regional governments. Today's high-level conference was hosted by European Commission's Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans and EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson.
The European Committee of the Regions has been a key supporter of the Covenant of Mayors for climate and energy since its creation. With a view to enhancing the work at national level, a Second Chamber of the Covenant Political Board was created, composed of 27 Members of the European Committee of the Regions acting as National Ambassadors of the Covenant Initiative in all EU Member States.
Green Deal Going Local is the CoR's campaign to place cities and regions at the heart of the EU's transition towards climate-neutrality.
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