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June 26, 2022

500 European cities pledge to reduce CO2 by more than 20 pc

Over 500 mayors signed yesterday in Brussels in the European Parliament the Covenant of Mayors, a declaration that pledges to save energy, encourage renewables and raise climate change awareness, energyportal.eu informs. The declaration was signed in the presence of EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Prime Minister of Spain.

The Covenant of Mayors is a Commission initiative, supported both by the European Parliament and the Committee of the Regions (CoR). Günther Oettinger, Commissioner responsible for energy said: “The Covenant of Mayors has become a key element of the EU sustainable energy policy. Regions and cities are demonstrating that climate mitigation is one of the best economic recovery strategies. Investment into the reduction of CO2 emissions and energy efficiency creates jobs which by their nature cannot be delocalised.”

Speaking at the ceremony, CoR First Vice-President Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso said: “National leaders failed at Copenhagen: local leaders must not. We have today launched a survey on sustainable energy policies in regions and cities as the first phase of our initiative to collect and disseminate best practice in tackling climate change. I invite all signatories of the Covenant of Mayors, and all local and regional authorities, to participate. This is not simply a question of collecting information about who is doing what – it is also an opportunity to see how they are doing it, why they are doing it and how they could do it better by working together with others.”

Building on the expertise of its Europe2020 Monitoring Platform, enlarged to include contributions from Covenant of Mayors members, the CoR will compile a unique database of action being carried out at the local level to combat global warming. The data will then be shared with all the members of the platform and Covenant of Mayors signatories to allow them to learn from their peers about how best to meet their obligations to cut emissions. The results will also form part of the Committee of the Regions’ contributions to the new EU Energy Action Plan, which will set the framework for European energy policy to 2020, and to the special session of the European Council devoted to energy policy in May 2011.

Cities signing up to the declaration will have to measure how much CO2 they emit and set out a plan to cut emissions. The number of cities signing up to the pledge has increased from around 350 last year.

The German city of Heidelberg, for example, has reduced emission in public buildings by around 40% through a programme of energy monitoring and setting up ‘energy teams’ in schools to improve efficiency. Meanwhile, Birmingham is one of only two UK cities to join the international Green Capital – Global Challenge initiative, which aims to drive private-sector investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

The initiative, which is being backed by Sir Richard Branson, has also signed up London, Copenhagen, Toronto, Vancouver and the US cities of Atlanta, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Washington DC.

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