The Executive Vice President of the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, discussed with the Mayor of Grenoble Eric Piolle, Deputy Mayor of Stockholm Katarina Luhr, and Andras Huszar, Ambassador of the EU Climate Pact, how to engage with all actors at the local level for climate neutrality, and how the European Commission can support cities in this path. The speakers exchanged views on the importance of local climate pacts, the role of the Covenant – Europe in fostering exchanges among local leaders, and the necessity of having clear long-term targets to orient the market and the private sector to be an active part in the transition.
“Cities are trailblazers, they can demonstrate to their citizens that climate neutrality is achievable, and what are the costs of doing nothing, which is immensely bigger than the cost of the transition”, said Executive Vice President of the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, who also announced the launch of a Policy Support Facility for European cities to move from planning to implementation of climate adaptation.
Many Covenant signatories have already committed to the Covenant 2050 climate neutrality targets, and many others are working on reaching this ambitious objective even before that date! On this matter, Anna Kaisa Ikonen, Mayor of Tampere, Zdenek Hrib, Mayor of Prague, and Tanya Hristova, Mayor of Gabrovo, shared views on the importance of putting in place a roadmap with milestones, a clear path for the whole city to follow, but also how important it is to have a supporting legislative and financial framework from the other levels of government. Cities cannot do it alone.
“The need for change is massive and in order not to leave anybody behind we need to make sure that the transition is done in the most just and most inclusive way possible”, Anna Kaisa Ikonen, Mayor of Tampere.
Minna Arve, Mayor of Turku, will be going to Glasgow for the COP26 Conference, and joined the ceremony to share with the rest of the Covenant Community the importance of this conference and what messages she will be bringing there. The vital roles of cities and local governments need to be recognised, and their daily action to tackle climate change in their communities should be supported by clear mandates, stable regulatory frameworks and sufficient resources. This is the only way for cities to turn their collective ambition into a reality!
The highlight of the event was probably the announcement of the European Covenant of Mayors City in the Spotlight Awards winners: Murcia, Spain, for the large-sized city category and Padova, Italy, for the medium-sized city category.
Murcia set ambitious goals for 2020, and achieved them. The city is now looking at 2050 and climate-neutrality, with an action plan developed through a participatory approach with the population. It is addressing climate change and biodiversity issues together, with a series of adaptation actions, building a more resilient city that is also fit for the climate challenges of tomorrow. The city mainstreamed climate resilience in its public health planning, with specific actions to assist vulnerable people during extreme climate events.
Padova, on the other hand, created “collaboration pacts” at the municipal level, signed with companies or universities, and contributed to the installation of greenery and solar panels on rooftops, on buildings that are not owned by the municipality, and defines sustainable mobility plans for its inhabitants. It’s also leading the way on home renovations, crucial to reduce emissions and inequalities at the same time, by ensuring that most vulnerable citizens can effectively lower their energy consumption, and therefore their energy bill.
Finally, Apostolos Tzitzikosas, President of the European Committee of the Regions and Governor of Central Macedonia in Greece, closed the event calling on the European Commission to work closer than ever with cities and regions: “It’s time for a Europe that works with, for and in its cities, regions and villages”. The President is also one of the National Covenant of Mayors Ambassadors who are promoting the initiative in their countries.
Networking side sessions were organised following the plenary session. Click on the links below to watch them again:
Watch the full event here.