Covenant of Mayors for a climate-neutral Europe-last event
Members and partners of the URBAN Intergroup had a chance to listen to a presentation of the Covenant of Mayors for a climate-neutral Europe last Friday (October 8th).
The Covenant of Mayors is the world’s largest movement for local climate and energy actions. It gathers more than 10.000 local authorities across Europe whose vision is to accelerate the decarbonisation of their territories, strengthen their capacity to adapt to unavoidable climate change impacts, and allow their citizens to access secure, sustainable and affordable energy.
Jan Olbrycht, President of the URBAN Intergroup, recalled at the opening of the event the beginnings of the Covenant, and some raising questions about the status and ownership of this bottom-up network of Mayors. After all those years of activities, the Covenant of Mayors is, according to Jan Olbrycht, “very well known, stable and a prestigious Pact”. He underlined as well the engagement of the European Parliament and the warm words of EP President David Sassoli that “Mayors’ actions will provide concrete results for the European Green deal”, during the Covenant of Mayors – Europe Ceremony 2021 that took place the day before the URBAN Intergroup event. Jan Olbrycht finally reminded the role of local authorities in the implementation of EU policies and targets on the ground: “We need a clear voice coming from the cities especially ahead of negotiations of the Fit for 55 package.”
Eero Ailio, Adviser on Energy Transition and Local Governance, from the European Commission DG Energy and Frédéric Boyer, Head of the Covenant of Mayors Office Europe, jointly presented the achievements and future challenges of the Covenant of Mayors. To set the scene, they recalled the major legislative proposals setting EU climate and energy ambitions, starting with the publication of the Green Deal in December 2019, the European climate Law (March 2020), the 2030 Climate Target Plan (September 2020) and finally the Fit for 55 package (published in July 2021). In this particular context, they showed how the Covenant of Mayors’ bottom-up approach to climate and energy ambitions of the EU. Moreover, the Covenant of Mayors in Europe community brings more than 10 thousand European local governments, which are committed to meet or exceed EU climate and energy targets from 2020 to 2030 and 2050 climate neutrality. This is the largest initiative of its kind in the world. It has been recalled how in 2016 the European Covenant of Mayors became the Global Covenant of Mayors with the engagement of Michael Bloomberg. Thanks to the support of several Commissions DGs and the pooling of different financial sources from EU Funds, the European Union invested in regional offices of the Global Covenant of Mayors.
During the meeting, the European Parliament involvement was praised, among others, in hosting the Covenant of Mayors ceremonies. Moreover, some necessary steps were presented in order to reinforce the commitments and the number of local authorities joining the Covenant.
In conclusion of the meeting, Marcos Ros Sempere, Member of the URBAN Intergroup, underlined that cities must take action to combat climate change by assessing roadmaps that take into account objectives such as decarbonised transport, strengthened efficiency building requirements, access to green energy and the implementation of stable regulation. “The New European Bauhaus is an unprecedented opportunity to rethink our built environment, to improve the quality of our architecture and urban planning, and to apply these criteria to the projects to be submitted to the Recovery Plan’s funds,” he said.
“Cities have a key role to play, but this requires a change in the urban model, which must inevitably go hand in hand with a change in the behaviour and lifestyle of citizens.” He concluded.