COP23: Cities keen on shoulder-to-shoulder climate action


Publication date

November 23, 2017

Where has EU leadership in energy and climate issues gone? Mrs Merkel has been having a hard time defending her “climate chancellor” label, while we are still wondering about Mr Macron as he wishes to verify Europe’s political will at his new summit on climate mobilisation on December 12th. The big emittors – amongst which is the European Union – know about their GHG balance, but they still critically lack ambitious policies for reaching the 2-degree limit agreed in Paris.

Increasing ambition becomes easier if local and regional governments play a key role in energy and climate governance. The “IN” in INDC (jargon for the countries’ contribution to global emissions reduction) should not stand for INaction or INhibition. It needs to be about INclusion and INsistence! Each INDC should be drafted by all government levels, cities included.

Ath the end of his stay in Bonn, Energy Cities’ President Eckart Würzner, also Mayor of Heidelberg and member of the Covenant Political Board, stated: “The national governments need to work more closely with cities and regions, provide them frameworks and opportunities, for implementing actions.” To upscale climate action, he encouraged his pairs to twin with other cities, thereby multiplying innovations and impacts by two. 

Photo: Mayor Eckart Würzner with Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, Deputy Executive Director and Assistant Secretary-General for UN-Habitat at the „Climate Summit for Local Leaders“ on November 12th in Bonn. Credits: Stadt Heidelberg

This works two-ways: local potentials, i.e. renewables and energy efficiency need to be systematically embedded into regional and national energy planning. On the other side, the integrated national energy and climate plans need go along with funding resources to enable the implementation of the targets at the local level. This is where the EU Covenant of Mayors could serve as a powerful tool for implementing national contributions.

Mayors: natural innovators

During the EU Energy Day at COP23, the EU Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, gathering over 9,200 signatory cities, and the World Alliance for Efficient Solutions launched by the Solar Impulse Foundation strengthened their common will to drive action. Thanks to a bilateral cooperation agreement, matchmaking of needs and solutions in areas of common interest, notably in clean, smart, efficient and renewable energy technologies, related societal innovation and low carbon development should be made easier.

The Covenant of Mayors Community and the World Alliance for Efficient Solutions will identify local and regional authorities willing to develop and implement technological innovations and pilot projects in order to boost equity and economic growth and mitigate the toll of climate change on communities worldwide.

Our three Energy Cities’ demands to States ahead of the next, 2020 COP milestone:

  • DIVEST: take the 100% renewables pathway
  • DEVOLVE: involve local authorities in multi-level energy and climate dialogues
  • DEMOCRATISE: design energy policies in partnership with the local stakeholders, make sure for a just transition, enable community energy projects.