Time travel : Our letter to incoming EU Commission President

How to get to 2050 and succeed in 2030


September in Brussels is known as the ‘Rentrée’ when the crowds of lobbyists, commission employees, MEPs and so on make their way back to Brussels after the August holidays. The streets of Brussels suddenly hum with life just as the corridors of the Berlaymont and Parliament are thronged between meetings discussing committees and political manifestos.

This frantic activity applies to almost everyone in Brussels – especially European Commission President Elect Ursula von der Leyen who is in the process of selecting the next commission and her priorities.

With so much to do, and so much at stake, Prof. Dr. Eckart Würzner, President of Energy Cities and Mayor of Heidelberg, recently sent her a letter setting out our priorities for ensuring a shared energy transition in Europe. Fortunately, this is an issue with which the President-Elect is already familiar.

I welcome your commitment to climate neutrality in 2050. I would like to share with you our proposals for a transition towards climate neutrality that leaves no one behind…. The only path to reach the 2050 targets means revising the 2030 target and, crucially, aligning all policies with climate neutrality.”

Scientists have been clear that we need drastic emissions cuts by 2030 if we are to avoid locking in catastrophic climate change. But to make such substantial progress requires a different way of operating.

“It is impossible to stay on a Paris-compatible reduction pathway if we do not involve all sectors, all policies and all departments…(and) we must mainstream climate into our budgets to achieve a transition aligned with the Paris Agreement.”

By mobilising the entirety of the EU’s capabilities and incorporating detailed carbon budgeting to ensure that, on an annual basis, we are making the necessary emissions cuts, Europe can lead the rest of the world and show the way.

And of course, it’s not just for the EU to act. The responsibility is shared amongst us all which was the theme on which Prof. Dr. Eckart Würzner closed the letter.

“I am struck by the determination of local leaders to act and to embrace their responsibilities towards future generations. They also see how the transition is an opportunity to build stronger, more prosperous and inclusive communities. For me, this should be the only objective of the Just Transition Fund which you have proposed and which is very much needed: to support communities in designing their future; in negotiating at local level, with all relevant stakeholders their transition pathway and to fairly share the benefits and burden of the transition.”

Energy Cities will continue to be in touch with the incoming president of the European Commission to ensure that the point of view of cities is recognised and they have the resources they need to achieve a shared energy transition in Europe.