Cities are the nexus of climate action

Mayors Alliance, or how climate action is unthinkable without cities

Mayors Alliance, or how climate action is unthinkable without cities

New initiative by Eurocities to lobby for increased visibility of urban climate efforts

A recently leaked draft report by the International Panel on Climate Change has pointed out the very real threat of passing beyond the global warming tipping point. The European Union has the European Green Deal as a response, the UN its SDG Agenda 2030, but one wonders – where are the cities in all of this?

Here to answer that precise question is the Mayors Alliance – a new initiative by the Eurocities network – which has the goal to put urban climate action front and centre in the global debate arena.

The mayors, as city leaders, have a dual role to play as the link between citizens and the EU

Details about the new alliance are still scarce but what is certain is that it has already published its working manifesto, a kind of a visionary document which states what the local government officials want to achieve. The document relays a well-underscored dissatisfaction with the continuous sidelining of cities when it comes to the design of European climate action policies.

In short, the mayors feel that EU policymakers do not take them and their concerns seriously enough. And such a stand is rather short-sighted.

With 37% of the available €673 billion in the EU’s recovery plan targeted towards green investments, many mayors have further highlighted the fact that cities were not involved in the design of the national recovery plans. In order to ensure the recovery is green and just, greater cooperation between national and local governments is needed.

As mayors and city leaders we play a double role in implementing this transition. We are the ambassadors for the European Green Deal locally and we represent peoples’ concerns, needs and interests to all levels of government. Achieving climate neutrality and sustainable development is in the interests of everyone, all these different levels, and we, as mayors, can be a focal point as the institutions closest to citizens,” stated Dario Nardella, Mayor of Florence.

Five key areas that local governments see as action imperatives

The Mayors Alliance is the platform that wants to raise the collective voice of local governments and make EU institutions pay attention because cities do have a lot to say and a lot to contribute. Here are five concrete actions that the mayors want to see implemented on the road to climate neutrality:

  • Ensure an EU-wide phase-out of fossil-fuelled vehicles by 2035; align CO2 vehicle emissions targets with the EU's 2050 objective of carbon neutrality; and raise the deployment of alternative fuels and charging infrastructure for vehicles in line with city needs;
  • Create the right conditions to enable near-zero-emission buildings by 2030 for new construction, and ensure that for old buildings the renovation rate increases to at least 3% per year combined with an average energy demand reduction of 75%;
  • Support vulnerable groups and energy poor households with direct subsidies and alternative measures; and ensure the most vulnerable are insulated against adverse impacts to the cost of living;
  • Earmark future carbon pricing revenues to support climate action, biodiversity protection and a fair transition in all European cities;
  • Realign renewable energy targets with the new 2030 emissions reduction target and empower cities and local communities to produce and consume locally, together with improved energy infrastructure.

Our ability, as city leaders, to implement ambitious policies to make the European Green Deal a reality for all citizens can be a real game-changer for Europe. At the same time our job can be made a lot easier when we can work with national governments that are willing to step up their climate ambition,” added Mayor Nardella.

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