Grenoble is one of the European cities taking charge in the sustainable change movement, Source: Fabe collage on Unsplash

Local governments take the lead in fight to achieve a climate-neutral, clean and healthy Europe

Local governments take the lead in fight to achieve a climate-neutral, clean and healthy Europe

Cluj-Napoca, Gdynia and Grenoble – three, out of over a hundred, cities that are showing their commitment through the Green City Accord movement

In the race for Europe to become the first climate-neutral continent, towns and cities have taken the lead. Integrated urban approaches to environmental management, through initiatives like the Green City Accord, are proving successful in advancing climate efforts and improving quality of life.  

Cluj-Napoca (Romania), Gdynia (Poland) and the 2022 European Green Capital Grenoble (France) are just three of the over hundred Green City Accord signatories combining holistic strategies to build clean and healthy urban environments. And with the recent introduction of the EU Nature Restoration Law, the Zero Pollution Action Plan and the European Green Deal, policymakers at the local, national and international levels are quickly realising the importance of a multifaceted approach.

Three European cities with plans  

Cluj-Napoca has ambitious projects to achieve the objectives set by the city agreement and the EU mission,” shares Deputy Mayor Emese Oláh. These projects include the expansion of existing green areas by 15%, the planting of 100.000 new trees and the overhaul of the existing public transport fleet to electric vehicles. The Romanian city views the transition to sustainable transport solutions as key to creating a greener, cleaner and more livable urban environment.

“By 2026 we also plan to develop the existing system of bicycle lanes and public transport lanes and, at the same time, I would like to mention that, at the moment, every Friday, the municipality of Cluj-Napoca offers free public transport,” shares Mayor Oláh.  

A holistic approach to environmental management, urban planning and climate mitigation is characteristic not only of Green City Accord signatories but of European cities looking to combat pollution. As Wojciech Szczurek, Mayor of Gdynia, shows, efforts to improve air quality and environmental standards - and decrease emissions - go hand in hand: 

“Over the years, both the efforts of our city's residents and the local government have focused on improving the quality of air and environment in our city. On the one hand, there are efforts to remove hundreds of coal stoves each year, replacing them with more environmentally friendly heating options…we have calculated the carbon footprint in Gdynia, and we know that in order to improve the climate quality of our city, we have to aim at the decarbonisation of the heating system and road transport.” 

In addition to cities spearheading comprehensive climate and environmental solutions, local authorities are also underlining their concern for just and fair transitions as a part of this process.  

“As climate change and biodiversity attacks intensify here in Europe, the major challenge faced by cities is that of maintaining and repairing a good life and sustainable life for everyone…Children born today will be adults by [2040] and need to grow and develop themselves in an environmentally sustainable way and in a socially equitable city,” says the Mayor of Grenoble, Éric Piolle.

Sustainable, integrated action across sectors - climate, environmental, health, etc., - often separates local authorities from their national and international counterparts as they address the most pressing challenges of our time. Regardless of the issue, Mayor Éric Piolle argues for the need to change our modes of consumption and production by using the “guiding principle” of social justice.  

Alongside cities like Cluj-Napoca, Gdynia and Grenoble, many other European mayors and local governments are leading the way to a greener, cleaner future through integrated climate and environmental efforts as part of initiatives like the Green City Accord, EU Mission for Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities, and sustainable city networks like ICLEI Europe. It is now up to others to follow suit.



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