Mayors in the driving seat, but who fills the tank?

By Miriam Eisermann on 7 March 2018

The Ceremony for the 10th Anniversary of the Covenant of Mayors in the European Parliament in Brussels was a moment for stock taking, celebrating, but also for criticising shortcomings.

Cities are in the midst of a major economic, social and environmental transformation. The 700 local and regional leaders that filled the Hemicycle of the European Parliament two weeks ago testified how they are proactively and creatively facing this challenge. From Florence in Italy to Wroclaw in Poland, cities showcased their innovative and ambitious strategies for improving buildings, transport, air quality or, simply, making their city an even more liveable place. For Ines Medeiros, Mayor of Almada in Portugal, the energy transition is, above all, about removing inequalities. "We need to focus the debate on how a city’s action can benefit all local players." With that in mind, she also emphasized the need for cooperation and pedagogy. Almada’s low-carbon living lab in the dynamic, historic city centre, involving the private sector and co-financed by the city’s local climate fund, illustrates this approach.

All city leaders in the room pledged to support the 2030 objectives of the Covenant of Mayors. Encouraged by Bertrand Piccard’s “1000 solutions” campaign, cities expressed their intention to increase use of innovative and climate-friendly technological solutions to tackle climate change and implement the energy transition.

The event was also a panorama of initiatives initiated by the EU Commission to better support cities. Amongst several other programmes, Maros Sefcovic, EU Commissioner in charge of the Energy Union, promoted the URBIS (Urban Investment Support) scheme, providing advice on setting up and funding projects.

For Energy Cities’ President Eckart Würzner, Mayor of Heidelberg, this is not enough. He suggested EU institutions may not think that large numbers of Covenant signatories mean large room for manoeuver for each of them. “As cities we commit ourselves because we are convinced of the importance and urgency of climate and energy action. However, hurdles remain for which we need much stronger and more direct support from the EU: funding, support structures for implementation etc.”

Energy Cities’ advocacy efforts for a permanent seat of cities in the design of National energy and climate plans may help remove the current flaws in policy design. Let us hope that the next Covenant Ceremony will be a celebration of a systematically used and ongoing dialogue between the local, national and EU policy levels!

EU Covenant of Mayors Board members on their commitment:

The detailed event summary:

Map of members
Vilvoorde Belgium | Wien Austria | Krizevci Croatia | Sustainable City Network (GR) Greece | CEDEF-Central European Development Forum (RS) Serbia
Events to come
Capacity-building workshop - Providing energy retrofit packages to private homeowners – business models and project implementation
Wednesday 19 June

10 years of ELENA - Supporting investments in energy efficiency and sustainable transport
Thursday 20 June 15:30-18:30

Designing smart and efficient energy policies with citizens
Friday 21 June 13:30-16:30

Rénovation énergétique des bâtiments et ensembles d’immeubles - Voyage d’étude, région de Lille
From 25 to 26 June

GMF’s Brussels Forum
From 27 to 29 June

LIFE PlanUp webinar: Involving stakeholders and the public in national energy and climate planning - good practices from across Europe
Thursday 27 June 10:00-11:30

All coming events >>
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