European Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action Miguel Arias Cañete met the EU Covenant of Mayors in Brussels to discuss future strategies and exchange views on energy and climate policy.
Due to support from the commission and directly linked to EU policy since its creation in 2008, the Covenant of Mayors has been one of the most successful European energy and climate initiatives.
Shaped by and for cities in a bottom-up process, the EU Covenant of Mayors signatories are on track to meet their 27% average target for reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020.
Eckart Würzner, Mayor of Heidelberg, Germany, insisted that mayors should focus on influencing citizens’ behaviour by developing public transport and promoting active mobility such as walking and cycling, with which all mayors present agreed.
The Mayor of Udine, Italy, Professor Furio Honsell, said: “We discussed the next multi-annual financial framework which should make it easier for cities to stimulate the energy transition and create low-emission areas.
“It was also pointed out that subsidising fossil fuel industries should be phased out. I stressed the importance of taking into account the economic and social impacts of decarbonisation in order to take on-board the largest number of people in the energy transition process.”
Cañete added: “The energy sector is indeed decisive for the implementation of the Paris Agreement but also to protect our citizens, in particular the most vulnerable, by ensuring access to clean and affordable energy for all, while contributing to competitiveness, employment and growth. The European Commission is strongly supporting cities in their efforts to achieve these objectives by setting the enabling framework, notably with the recently-adopted ’Clean Energy for All Europeans’ package as part of the Energy Union framework strategy.”
The Covenant of Mayors Board members presented Cañete with a declaration that outlined its achievements. Their commitments to the energy transition and climate protection were reaffirmed, as was the essential role played by local governments in EU policies.
The overall message was one of cities contributing fast decisions at local level, however difficult.
Honsell suggested that the next meeting will be held in the first quarter of 2018.