Cities: Front line of climate action

16-02-2018

Cities have a crucial role to play in addressing the climate change challenge and delivering on the ambitions of the Paris Agreement. In the European Union (EU), where nearly three quarters of the population live in urban areas, many cities are leading the way in this regard, taking action in three areas central to increasing energy efficiency and reducing emissions – namely, buildings, energy supply, and transport – and acting as living laboratories of climate-change-related innovation. The EU supports cities in their efforts by providing guidance, promoting experience-and knowledge-sharing, fostering cooperation, and funding climate action. Climate-relevant initiatives are in place in various policy fields, from transport to the environment, research and innovation, the most high-profile being the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, which currently counts over 7 700 signatories. A supportive framework is essential to ensure city-level initiatives have enough resources and potential to effect meaningful change. Easing access to climate funding and strengthening the role of cities in climate governance are among the main challenges ahead, and the main demands of city associations. The latter issue is currently in the spotlight, notably in relation to the proposal for a regulation on energy union governance, part of the EU clean energy package. The European Parliament adopted amendments to the proposed regulation in January 2018. The role of EU regions and cities in implementing the Paris Agreement is also the subject of an own-initiative report, scheduled for debate during the March plenary session. This briefing is an update of an earlier one published in October 2017.

Cities have a crucial role to play in addressing the climate change challenge and delivering on the ambitions of the Paris Agreement. In the European Union (EU), where nearly three quarters of the population live in urban areas, many cities are leading the way in this regard, taking action in three areas central to increasing energy efficiency and reducing emissions – namely, buildings, energy supply, and transport – and acting as living laboratories of climate-change-related innovation. The EU supports cities in their efforts by providing guidance, promoting experience-and knowledge-sharing, fostering cooperation, and funding climate action. Climate-relevant initiatives are in place in various policy fields, from transport to the environment, research and innovation, the most high-profile being the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, which currently counts over 7 700 signatories. A supportive framework is essential to ensure city-level initiatives have enough resources and potential to effect meaningful change. Easing access to climate funding and strengthening the role of cities in climate governance are among the main challenges ahead, and the main demands of city associations. The latter issue is currently in the spotlight, notably in relation to the proposal for a regulation on energy union governance, part of the EU clean energy package. The European Parliament adopted amendments to the proposed regulation in January 2018. The role of EU regions and cities in implementing the Paris Agreement is also the subject of an own-initiative report, scheduled for debate during the March plenary session. This briefing is an update of an earlier one published in October 2017.