Unveiled last March, the EU Commission’s proposed Climate Law aims to enshrine the 2050 climate neutrality objective into European legislation. But climate neutrality itself will not be achieved solely through cross-border market integration or technological innovation. It will require innovative local processes allowing each territory to become more resilient and less dependent on energy imports or technology upgrades.
As representatives of European local authorities, Energy Cities believes the European Green Deal, and more particularly the Climate Law, should provide a springboard for mainstreaming these new sustainable trends and practices.
Energy Cities welcomes the reinforced climate ambitions within the European Green Deal and the strong rhetorical emphasis on the notions of fairness and participation in the proposed climate law. However, beyond positive wording, the regulation fails to grant proper consideration to the contribution of local and regional authorities in delivering the climate neutrality objective, despite the central role they play in transforming the EU economy into a resilient and climate-proofed system with the equal contribution of all economic operators.
Local governments appreciate the recognition that all EU legislations and policies should align with the objective of climate neutrality and that the Commission shall revise any existing rule that would stand in the way of reaching this target. As representatives of cities, we however regret that the regulation includes no legal mechanism to enable local authorities to report on obstacles – often posed by national legislation or measures – they regularly face in the implementation of their climate neutral strategies.
In addition, Energy Cities strongly deplores that the proposed law does not include any framework or process aimed to align the EU economic governance to the climate emergency. The twin challenge of climate mainstreaming and climate proofing should indeed be enshrined in this regulation and be applied to all EU funds and programmes as well as to Member States’ fiscal and budgetary policies. Indeed, although one recital mentions the need to “integrate climate change related risks into investment and planning decisions», no article refers to how this would be implemented in practice. The climate emergency is pushing local and regional authorities to design robust economic relocation and diversification strategies. In order to be supported in their efforts, they need to be given the right signal from above.