While the discussions on 2030 between Member States show a worrying lack of urgency, there is a growing voice in the debate that is speaking out on the real impacts. In just a short time frame, cities have become a significant voice on the need for greater climate ambition and it’s set to only grow louder.
Recently over 1000 cities, represented by the network Energy Cities, wrote to the president of EU Council Herman Van Rompuy criticising the Commission’s proposal for lacking “the necessary ambition to meet Europe’s climate and energy commitments for 2050”. They argue that EU cities and regions need to be much more strongly involved in the 2030 discussions to rebuild citizens’ faith in the EU institutions.
This action follows a global trend that is emerging. Cities know that low ambition significantly increases the risks of serious climate change damage to their citizens and businesses and they are speaking out about it. In January UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recognised the crucial role of cities by appointing Michael Bloomberg as the UN Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change. This was followed by a major report from C40 Climate Leadership Group expressing concern at the lack of concrete outcomes at intergovernmental level but showing that cities are majorly stepping up their climate change efforts.
It’s cities that will ultimately have to implement most of the outcomes of the 2030 package and international 2015 agreement in Paris. They will also have to deal with the real risks on the ground to their citizens and economy if the action is too low. EU Member States might not feel the pressure yet, but it’s going to be increasingly difficult to ignore the real impacts in towns and cities, where 75% of the EU population live.