Cities and Regions: Powering Europe towards a zero-carbon future

National, regional and local governments working for long term climate plans

Cities and regions worldwide are taking a leading role in the fight against climate change. Their engagement makes sense - cities already produce 70% of global CO2 emissions, and their populations are expected to double by 2050. Over the same period $350 trillion of infrastructure investments will go into cities.  In addition, cities and regions  are often first to be hit by climate change and have had to find new ways of adapting. It can often be quicker for them to take a decision and act on it than for the heavier bureaucracy of  national government.

However, climate change must be tackled at all levels. It is therefore critical for national governments to learn from, and work with local and regional governments in climate planning.

The Maximiser project has focused to-date on national long term strategies for climate. It has found that only 13 out of the 28 Member States have a long term climate strategy.

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On  30 January our Maximiser roundtable took a closer look at how the EU and national governments can work with regions and cities in 2050 strategy development and implementation.

We  have showcased what cities and regions are doing to tackle climate change and considered what those cities and regions can contribute to the national climate planning process.

Tula Ekengren, Regional Developer, Region Västra Götaland, Sweden highlighted the importance of a large scale consultation process involving all potential stakeholders, before drawing up a regional climate strategy. In Västra Götaland, this process led to more than 100 organisations, together with the regional government, pledging to be 100% fossil free by 2030.

Adam White, Senior Research Coordinator, WWF European Policy Office added,  “particularly important are consultations and participative processes on the local level. Cities and regions are closer to their constituents and can engage with them directly to find solutions that improve their quality of life, whilst also reducing their impact on the environment”.  

The MaxiMiseR project just recently published an update of its guidance report “Planning to succeed ”, which lists 10 essential elements for a successful long-term strategy, as well as a comprehensive list of literature published on that subject.

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Paul Davies, Head of the Bristol (UK) Brussels Office, pointed out that Bristol has a long standing track record of fighting climate change. After winning “ the European Green Capital award in 2015, Bristol stepped up its ambitions and decided to become carbon neutral and run on green energy by 2050. An essential feature of the Green Capital programme, is one of the biggest ever municipal investments into energy efficiency, but the programme also focuses on social aspects, such as fuel poverty”.

Dina Silina, Adaptation, DG Climate Action gave an overview of how and where the European Commission is working closely with regions and cities through platforms, such as the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.   

Imke Lübbeke, Head of Climate and Energy at WWF European Policy Office, concluded that “there are many great initiatives going on at the regional and communal level. A major step forward is strengthening bottom- up approaches, but at the same time, the European Commission needs to show their ambition and deliver an updated 2050 roadmap. The question that remains to be answered is, are all government levels interconnected well enough?”

For information on upcoming MaxiMiseR events, contact Leia: lachampong@wwf.eu