Cities do not lack climate ambition, but they lack human resources. This is the message of Philippe Guelpa-Bonaro Vice-President of the Metropolis of Lyon (France), in charge of Climate, Energy and Advertising Reduction: “Without human resources and qualified people to ensure the operational implementation of the energy transition, we will fail even if we have the most brilliant “Climate Plan” in Europe”.  

The LocalStaff4Climate manifesto drafted by Energy Cities and its partners resonates with all European cities because it acknowledges a reality that cities of all sizes face: the lack of territorial engineering. As shown by Energy Cities’ recent country-by-country analysis, to meet the 2030 targets for the decarbonisation of buildings alone, an additional 2.5 jobs will be needed per year on average over the period 2022-2030 in every municipality in Europe. Energy Cities proposes  recommendations and solutions to address the critical situation, identified in our discussions with local representatives, the European Commission and the think tank I4CE in a webinar in early July.  

47 organisations have signed the manifesto. Local elected representatives from cities, towns, villages and local energy and climate agencies share herein their multiple motivations: 

1. To raise awareness of the current situation 

Today, cities do not have the human resources necessary to fulfil their climate ambitions. Allen Coliban, mayor of Brasov (Romania) describes the current situation: “Whilst our goal is to increase the usage of green energy sources, the human resource is the scarcest one. In order to accomplish the transition neutrality plan, it is urgent that cities get help to recruit, train and maintain staff.”  

For the municipalities, it is difficult to recruit due to a lack of budgetary means and a lack of candidates, who are not attracted by the working conditions in public administration. Pierre Prot, Delegated community councillor in charge of networks and energy of Grand Paris Sud and deputy mayor in charge of ecological and social transition in Évry-Courcouronnes (France), states, “The Grand Paris Sud agglomeration is committed to a proactive climate-energy policy, and we are also facing recruitment difficulties in the energy sector, in the thermal renovation of buildings and in sustainable development in general. This is why we fully agree with this manifesto, which we sign with conviction“. 

 This is the case for large cities and metropolises such as Brasov above as well as for small villages with big ambitions, as expressed by Michel Maya, mayor of Tramayes (1 000 inhabitants, France): “Since I became mayor (1995!), I have seen the disengagement of the French state services. There is a terrible lack of human resources and yet we are in dire need of them to implement the transition quickly, particularly in the field of energy, which is becoming crucial.”  

2. To call for moving the (budget) lines 

Particularly in the case of France, the Cahors Pact, a strict translation of the European Stability and Growth Pact, hampers cities in their investment, especially in human capital.  

This is what motivated Sylvain Godinot, deputy mayor of Lyon (France) for the ecological transition and heritage, to sign the manifesto “ I am co-signing this letter, which resonates with the lack of resources allocated to date to the “100 climate neutral cities” call for expressions of interest, and with the threat of the return of the Cahors pact by the French government, which would cap the capacity of local authorities to hire agents assigned to climate energy issues.”  

It is also the call of Jean-Patrick Masson Vice-President of Dijon Métropole (France) “The design of the budgetary rules prevents us from recruiting the staff that the Metropolis needs. Local governments must be able to make intangible (human) investments if we want to achieve climate neutrality.”  

3. Mobilise all stakeholders to find solutions together 

The recommendations of the Energy cities study and manifesto address all geographical levels: local, national and European. The signatories, therefore, seek to mobilise stakeholders to develop solutions together as Philippe Guelpa-Bonaro: “Vocational training, which is a regional competence in France, is a crucial issue. The Member States must act to finance, and if necessary, force, the regions to provide vocational training linked to the ecological transition and help the municipalities and groupings of municipalities to finance operational positions.”  

Local energy agencies are also affected by the lack of manpower in the agencies and cities, as highlighted by Maryse Combres, Regional Councillor of New Aquitaine President of FLAME, federation of French Local Energy and Climate Agencies (ALECs) “There is a lack of territorial engineering to implement the necessary energy transition in the territories. This lack is felt both in the local authorities themselves and in the parapublic agencies that support them, such as the French Local Energy and Climate Agencies. The territories suffer from a lack of permanent support from the central State to finance such engineering, which is essential to trigger concrete projects aimed at reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.” 

4. For a snowball effect: recruiting to boost the transition and the local economy 

This is a chicken and egg problem. The local governments do not have the financial means to recruit; they want to look for funds but do not have the staff to do so. So, cities need to be given less conditional funding from the outset so that they can recruit. The recruited staff will then be able to raise funds, especially European funds, and make investments for the transition. Staff first, then projects. This will benefit the entire local economy, as highlighted in the study and by Ion Dogeanu, Director of the Agency for Energy Efficiency and Environmental Protection Bucharest (Romania): “By mobilising society and providing decarbonisation strategies, local governments can unlock billions in investments and create millions of jobs. We are here to support them.”  

Join these organisations and local authorities by signing the manifesto on behalf of your local authority and sharing with us the reasons for your commitment if you wish.