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Cities demand ambitious climate action at the European level

By State of Green, May 08, 2019

210 mayors from a number of European cities representing 62 million citizens in total sent an open letter on Thursday urging the European Council and EU member states to commit to a long-term climate strategy with the objective of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

Signed by leaders of cities in 21 EU member states and 7 neighbouring countries, the letter was sent two days in advance of the Future of Europe conference, an informal summit that will take place in Sibiu, Romania on May 9. Here, heads of European states and the European Council will meet to discuss the future of the EU.

The 210 mayors described current European climate policy “inadequate” and called for immediate action, where the EU’s climate commitments are strengthened, the EU demonstrates global leadership and drives ambition to make rapid progress in the implementation of the Paris Agreement. The letter demands that EU leaders:

·         Develop a just and inclusive European long-term climate strategy that enhances resilience and ensures emissions in the EU peak by 2020, more than halve by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050;

·         Enhance the 2030 EU climate and energy targets and Nationally Determined Contribution to ensure a resilient, rapid and just energy transition in line with the above goals;

·         Align the next EU long-term budget with this strategy, remove fossil fuel subsidies and mainstream climate action as a priority across all funding programmes; and

·         Commit all member states to binding net-zero emissions reduction targets and the above goals.

The letter highlights the role of cities in spurring the transition to a carbon neutral Europe and achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement. Cities around Europe are working towards Co2 neutrality, implementing new waste management systems and using more renewable energy. However, many need more support from the nation states, write the mayors. 

-Related solution: Sollighøgda Plussby –  a smart and sustainable city

“As mayors and heads of the local governments we can play a central role,” the letter reads.

“But we need an enabling European framework and initiatives, which the national authorities transform to action”.

Currently, the EU has committed to reducing its CO2 emissions by 40 per cent by 2030 and at least 80 per cent by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels). 

This is insufficient, said the mayors, who demand more than 50 per cent by 2050, and complete C=2 neutrality by 2050.

They also demand a complete halt on state subsidies to coal, gas and oil, which may not be politically popular everywhere in Europe.

The initiative for the letter was taken by the global city network C40 which includes large cities such as London, Paris and Madrid, but also smaller towns such as  Frederikshavn and Sønderborg in Denmark. The mayors of the Danish capital Copenhagen and Aalborg, Denmark’s fourth largest city are also signatories to the letter.

Denmark already has a national goal of C02 neutrality by 2050, which was first established in 2012 and restated in the energy agreement signed by all parties sitting in the Danish parliament in 2018.

-Related solution: Copenhagen – carbon neutral by 2025

However, the letter is also directed towards Denmark, emphasises Lord Mayor Frank Jensen from Copenhagen.

“There are also areas where Denmark needs to improve. Many of the things we are advocating for now are things the City Council doesn’t have the authority to take action on – for example, the transport sector”. 

The letter can be accessed in its entirety here.

 Source: Energiwatch(in Danish)

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