Brussels, 13 January 2010
Oettinger and Hedegaard urged to step-up involvement of local and regional level in tackling climate change
Luc Van den Brande, President of the EU Committee of the Regions (CoR), has called on the Commissioners-designate for energy and climate action to acknowledge the key role played at the local and regional level in reducing energy consumption and tackling the causes and effects of climate change.
Speaking ahead of the European Parliament hearings for Günter Oettinger and Connie Hedegaard, President Van den Brande said: “The failure of national leaders to agree on concrete action to tackle climate change or to set binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions has made it clearer than ever that the local and regional level must shoulder a large part of this responsibility. There are literally thousands of examples of local and regional authorities taking direct action to curb emissions and combat global warming – the massive support for the Covenant of Mayors initiative is evidence of that – and the Committee of the Regions has produced a myriad of opinions that underline the commitment and drive of sub-national authorities in tackling these issues.”
The CoR has become an increasingly active partner in the Covenant of Mayors, the European Commission initiative launched in 2008 to encourage local political leaders to commit to cutting energy emissions and develop the use of renewable energy sources, with many CoR members or the local and regional authorities they represent among the more than 1000 signatories of the pact. Van den Brande called on Oettinger, whose energy portfolio includes the Covenant of Mayors, to give a clearer and more active role to the CoR in the development of the Covenant, citing the Committee’s recent efforts to broker a cooperation agreement with the US Conference of Mayors. The agreement is expected to be signed in the coming months and will enable the exchange of best practice between mayors on both sides of the Atlantic. The CoR’s Lisbon Monitoring Platform has also begun a recent consultation in cooperation with the Covenant of Mayors aimed at establishing a comprehensive database of climate action at the local and regional level across the EU.
“The CoR has been a strong supporter of the Covenant of Mayors from its inception, and we have consistently encouraged our members and the local and regional authorities they represent to sign up. But we believe that the Covenant can do so much more, as our negotiations with the US Conference of Mayors have shown. Our network of contacts with other associations and organisations representing local and regional authorities elsewhere in the world puts us in a strong position to broker similar cooperation agreements, and we have bold but achievable ambitions to create a global network or climate action at the local and regional level. We call upon Commissioner-designate Oettinger to formalise the role of the Committee within the Covenant of Mayors. As the EU’s assembly of local and regional representatives, the CoR should be the first point of call for all EU-related issues affecting and involving sub-national authorities, and the CoR is ready to play this lynchpin role for the Covenant of Mayors.”
The Covenant of Mayors is only one initiative among many, however, and Van den Brande asked the Commissioner-designate for climate action, Connie Hedegaard, to explain how she envisaged promoting the inclusion of the local and regional level in the EU’s collective response to the failure of Copenhagen. “The EU has expressed its disappointment at the lack of ambition in the Copenhagen agreement, and has pledged to continue its efforts to cut emissions. That effort must now also recognise the work of local and regional authorities, and we will look to Commissioner-designate Hedegaard to set out her proposals for adopting a multi-level governance approach to dealing with this issue. The work of the Committee of the Regions on issues as diverse as the EU emissions trading system, transport emissions and waste recycling, among others, shows clearly that the local and regional level has a wealth of experience in dealing with these issues. We hope and expect the new climate action commissioner to take advantage of this know-how as part of an overall European strategy,” Van den Brande said.
More information on the CoR’s position on climate change and energy-related issues, including the Covenant of Mayors, can be found in the CoR’s website.
Visit the CoR's website: www.cor.europa.eu
The Committee of the Regions
The Committee of the Regions is the EU's assembly of regional and local representatives. The mission of its 344 members from all 27 EU Member States is to involve regional and local authorities and the communities they represent in the EU's decision-making process and to inform them about EU policies. The European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council are obliged to consult the Committee in policy areas affecting regions and cities. It can appeal to the EU Court of Justice if its rights are infringed or it believes that an EU law violates the subsidiarity principle or fails to respect regional or local powers.
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