Paris 2015 should not be a second Copenhagen! Mayors on the road to COP21

By Miriam Eisermann on 30 April 2015

Energy and climate governance: who has the power? That is the question European mayors discussed during the high-level mayors’ session of Energy Cities’ Conference in Aberdeen.

On the road to Paris 2015, seven European mayors and elected representatives stopped by in Aberdeen to present their ambitions and actions for the UN COP21 Climate Summit in December. Decision-makers from the cities of Heidelberg, Paris, Bordeaux, Aberdeen, Växjö, and Brussels and from the Rhône-Alpes Region shared their views on the challenges and opportunities of the Paris Conference for local authorities.

Mayor of Heidelberg and President of Energy Cities Dr Würzner invited States to recycle and reuse what is successful in local transition processes: “Take a closer look at the local level to introduce a new type of energy governance including all political levels!”.

Evelyne Huytebroeck, Member of the Brussels Regional Parliament, noted that “there is still too big a gap between the local level and the COP negotiations". And she sent out a warning message to decision-makers: “Paris should not be another Copenhagen!". In order to link citizens’ everyday life with what is happening at UN level, the Belgian local Parliamentarian convinced other Greens-led Brussels neighbourhoods to organise local study visits (called Climate Tours) for interested inhabitants.

In October 2015, two months before the big gathering in Paris, Bordeaux Metropole will organise a “Youth COP21 Summit” for 600 children" says Anne Walryck, Vice-President of Bordeaux Metropole. In January already, the city had published the “Bordeaux Call”, in which city networks and cities committed to climate action even before a post-Kyoto agreement was defined.

From the left and from the top : Barney Crockett (Aberdeen), Bo Frank (Växjö), Alan Coleman (Cork), Eckart Würzner (Heidelberg), Anne Walryck (Bordeaux Métropole), Célia Blauel (Paris) and Evelyne Huytebroeck (Brussels-Capital)

In Paris, only 10% of inhabitants are actively involved in climate action. Host to the UN Climate Summit, the French capital shows particular ambition to be amongst the climate frontrunners this year and beyond. "2015 is the year to accelerate the ongoing processes”, says Célia Blauel, Deputy Mayor of Paris. Actions are manifold: the city has recently launched a green fund, it joined the divestment campaign and is investing €40 million a year to reach the 2016 objective of supplying its municipal buildings with 100% renewable electricity. This and similar local initiatives are meant to inspire the UN parties by providing solutions for a 2°C mitigation scenario.

The Swedish town of Växjö, represented by its Mayors Bo Frank, is a living example of turning an ambitious vision into reality. Since 1996, when it set itself the goal to go fossil-fuel free, Växjö has rolled out a programme radically localising its energy production: "Today, 70% of our energy comes from renewables such as biomass and biogas" proudly stated Mayor Frank. And he added: "The Swedish system gives a huge set of competencies to local authorities. Decentralisation has been a key factor to our success".

The session was also an opportunity for Bernard Soulage, a Vice-President of the French Rhône-Alpes Region, to present one of the upcoming key pre-COP21 events: the World Climate and Territories Summit to be held in Lyon (France) on 1-2 July! For the first time ever, non-state players will present collective commitments to the UN negotiators.
Energy Cities is actively involved in the organisation of this event for which 800 participants are expected. We are pleased to offer a seat to 30 of our members. First come, first serve! Hurry up ;-) Contact: miriam.eisermann[at]

Aberdeen, in full experimental deployment of new energy sources, has experienced the power of partnerships for the energy transition. “The private sector is a key player in Aberdeen, especially for the city’s innovative hydrogen bus project", confirmed City Councillor Barney Crockett. Aware of the enormous challenge that is reaching a global climate agreement in December, Crockett expects bravery and commitment of politicians to be a key success factor.

Asked to share what they expect from their national energy and climate Ministers in view of Paris 2015, participants attending Energy Cities’ Conference came up with a number of powerful messages. We remind one in particular:
"National ambitions have taken us this far. Local and coordinated actions will take us even further!"

President of Energy Cities Eckart Würzner (Heidelberg) sends European cities’ message to COP21

Have a look at how the Twittosphere commented on this session using #mayors2015 and @energycities


© photos Norman Adams-Aberdeen City Council

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