After Copenhagen:

Cities and regions take up the challenge of climate change

1. Event

The Congress is responding to the absence of a binding agreement on climate, to take over from the Kyoto Protocol in 2012, by organising a debate on the role of cities and regions in taking up action after Copenhagen, over from governments, during its March Plenary Session

2. Date

Thursday, 18 March 2010 as from 15h00 (Hemicycle of the Council of Europe, Strasbourg).

3. Participants in the Congress debate

Rapporteur Congress Vice-President Dubravka SUICA (Croatia, L, EPP/CD)

Guest speaker Klaus BONDAM, Vice-Mayor of Copenhagen (Denmark)

4. Background

The Congress took an active part in the mobilisation by NGOs, citizens and territorial authorities in order to establish a common local and regional position and send a strong message to governments, urging them to recognise the role of municipalities and regions in this matter, and to include them into negotiations. Action on climate must not be limited to mitigation and adaptation, it must include good governance and human rights dimensions (right to a healthy environment).

The Congress’ contribution to the Copenhagen conference concerned a variety of measures, such as promoting a “new energy culture” in terms of local energy production and exploitation, schemes to reduce the vulnerability of towns and cities to the consequences of global warming, promoting public transport which is both more attractive to the users and more eco-friendly, improved water management policies and, most recently, local responses to climate change as well as help to coastal towns in the face of rising sea levels.

Copenhagen succeeded in:

    - acknowledging, for the first time, that the increase in global temperature must be below 2 degrees Celsius;

    - committing rich countries to implementing “the quantified economy-wide emissions targets” for 2020;

    - providing for 100 billion US dollars a year by 2020 to help developing countries with mitigation and adaptation;

    - providing that developed countries will contribute 30 billion US dollars over 2010-2012 to this effort;

    - setting up the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund to channel a “significant portion” of this funding.

Copenhagen failed:

    - to make the reached agreement legally binding;

    - to make emissions reduction targets mandatory to all countries;

    - to establish a reference year with which to compare the targets (1995 or 2005?);

    - to establish a mechanism for financing the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund.

The final results of the conference were a disappointment – “a missed opportunity”, according to the acting Congress President, Ian Micallef. “In the face of the global challenge that threatens the very future of our planet, the lack of agreement on binding targets, the lack of commitment to resolute mitigation and adaptation measures is nothing but alarming and irresponsible”, he said.

5. Elements for the debate

    - Local and regional authorities in Europe are among the biggest polluters due to the use of public transport, residential heating, local economic production, etc. They are also the first to suffer the consequences of climate change and have to be innovative in finding solutions to its negative effects.

    - Towns and cities, regions and federated states have shown that their contribution to the reduction of climate change effects can account for 50 to 80%. In many cases the results obtained were better than those of their respective national governments. Mayors of the world's greatest cities advocate for the recognition of municipalities and regions as laboratories in the search for innovative solutions.

    - Some of them have the means to carry out action on climate: 2/3 of public investments within the European Union are made by territorial bodies; since 2000 territorial investments have increased by 3.2%. Others need financial support from governments. Both need national and international political recognition of their action and its inclusion into national and international strategies and action plans.

    - After Copenhagen, a new agreement is called for, that takes account of the ecological, economic, ethical, social justice and human rights dimensions, to achieve more sustainable climate change solutions. This agreement must be concluded in Mexico in November-December 2010, and local and regional authorities must be part of the negotiating process.


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