EUROCITIES on COP 21 – climate action for jobs & social inclusion

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Climate action in cities can be an opportunity for quality jobs, social inclusion and a better quality of life.

During COP 21 in Paris on 5 December, we hosted a session to highlight the opportunities climate action can bring for job creation, social inclusion and better quality of life in our cities.

Moderated by Anna Lisa Boni, EUROCITIES secretary general, the session addressed how cities can use climate action as an opportunity for local economic development. The panel featured: Ashok Sridharan, mayor of Bonn; Anneli Hulthén, mayor of Gothenburg; Tony Lloyd, interim mayor of Greater Manchester; Pierfrancesco Maran, deputy mayor of Milan; Thomas Quero, councillor in Nantes, president of EUROCITIES; Juan Espadas, mayor of Seville; and Katarina Luhr, deputy mayor of Stockholm.  

With many cities facing high levels of unemployment, we explored how climate action can help maximise job creation, for both high and low skilled workers. We also looked at ways to ensure that the transition to a low carbon economy is an opportunity to address poverty and social exclusion.

For example, cities can promote investment in measures for climate adaptation, local renewable energy production and local energy efficiency, which can create jobs within the local economy. With the appropriate training and education, many of these opportunities can be made available to less qualified workers. Supporting innovative SMEs through targeted local business support is another way to create sustainable economic growth and jobs.

Speaking ahead of the session, EUROCITIES president and mayor of Nantes, Johanna Rolland, said:

“The challenge ahead of us is huge, but we see climate action as a chance to create new jobs and improve social cohesion, support innovation, and help households and businesses save money.”

Climate action is also an opportunity to address energy efficiency in households and businesses, allowing them to save money and avoiding fuel poverty.

Big cities have the potential to make a big impact when it comes to fighting climate change, and many are already leading the way. As national governments are negotiating a global climate deal, we want to demonstrate the importance of urban solutions. Cities are already making a difference, but will need to do a lot more in the future. To ensure a real transformation in the long term, cities will need to link their climate action with their broader social and economic objectives, as well as engaging partners including citizens, and showing strong leadership.

Karin Wanngård, mayor of Stockholm, speaking ahead of the session, said:

“As cities we are constantly exploring the economic and social opportunities climate action offers, like supporting innovative SMEs to create new and sustainable jobs.” 

Our session took place in the TAP (Transformative Actions Program) Cities and Regions Pavilion, which was co-hosted by the cities of Paris and Bristol, and by ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability. 

This discussion builds on our June 2015 statement, ‘European cities and climate action: towards COP 21’, in which we give examples of the economic and social opportunities of climate action, and we make recommendations of how to support cities in their efforts.

Earlier this year, we also published a collection of good practices, ‘Green jobs for social inclusion’, outlining some of the ways cities are using the green economy as an opportunity to create jobs for vulnerable people.

EUROCITIES hosted a second session at COP 21 on 8 December, where politicians discussed smart city solutions for energy efficiency and climate change - see here for more details.