At a political debate today in Nantes, city leaders discussed the importance of recognising the role of cities and local solutions in a global climate deal at COP 21.
At a political debate in Nantes on 10 June, our executive committee discussed the importance of recognising the role of cities and local solutions in a global climate deal at COP 21. Politicians from our executive committee were joined by George Ferguson, mayor of European Green Capital 2015, Bristol; and Tjaša Ficko, deputy mayor of Ljubljana, titleholder for 2016.
Participants discussed and adopted our statement on ‘European cities and climate action: towards COP 21’, which sets out a number of practical recommendations of how cities could be better involved in the global governance of climate change, and better equipped and resourced to strengthen and scale up their efforts.
Speaking at the debate, Johanna Rolland, mayor of Nantes and EUROCITIES president, said: “European cities are world leaders on climate action. Many of us have targets more ambitious than our respective governments, and we work hard to ensure our climate action has wider benefits: for the quality of life in our cities, for jobs and social inclusion. We’d like to share our experiences with other cities around the world, and learn from theirs too."
Laurent Fabius, French foreign minister, delivered a video message to the politicians in Nantes. He said: "your mobilisation will make a real difference...now is the time to think about, build and lay out green cities". He said that local governments "have the power to encourage governments to set ambitious targets and increase our chances of remaining below the limit of two degrees". He also stressed the role cities play in connecting with their citizens, saying that: "you can encourage your citizens to adopt a 'zero carbon attitude' in their daily lives, with ecological transport, positive energy buildings and waste recycling". Recognising the important role that cities should play in achieving global climate goals, he finished with "you hold major keys to the solution". You can view the full video address here.
With many cities setting themselves more ambitious climate targets than the EU, we are leaders in climate action. We want to ensure that our experiences and expertise are fully recognised at COP 21 and beyond, and that we can share these with other cities around the world.
Our statement also highlights some of the opportunities we see in the fight against climate change. These include new green jobs, including for less qualified workers; as well as financial savings to be made from more energy efficient homes and businesses; greater independence from volatile fossil fuel prices by investing in renewable energy; driving change through green procurement; and happier, healthier cities and citizens.
At the debate, politicians also discussed a roadmap of activities in the lead up to COP 21 this December. These include: the World Summit of Territorial Climate Action in Lyon on 1-2 July, where we will host a workshop; our annual conference on 4-6 November in Copenhagen/Malmo which will include a private political session on COP 21; and another event in our series of ‘urban dialogues’ to focus on climate in Brussels this November.
Photo © Franck Tomps/Atelier du Jour