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The EU's Assembly of Regional and Local Representatives

COR/10/69

Brussels, 5 October 2010

European and US mayors sign up for climate action at CoR Plenary Session

Committee of the Regions President Mercedes Bresso and Elisabeth B. Kautz, President of the United States Conference of Mayors, have today signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation on climate action in the presence of several hundred regional and local politicians and the EU Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard. The ceremony was followed by the accession of new cities and regions signing up for climate action to the Covenant of Mayors, a European climate action initiative launched by the European Commission and the CoR. The Covenant now has 2000 towns, 25 capital cities and 100 regions as supporting structures.

The Memorandum of Understanding comes as a result of months of cooperation between the Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the US Conference of Mayors, spurred on by a desire to move the climate action agenda forward after the disappointing results of Copenhagen. It strives to accelerate local measures on both sides of the Atlantic to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, to promote renewable energy sources and sustainable urban mobility, as well as to change citizens' behaviour. The memorandum also aims to mobilise regional and local leaders to voice their demands in the run-up to the Cancun Climate Summit in December.

Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard, who addressed the Committee of the Regions immediately before the signing ceremony, said: "In parallel with the international negotiations, the EU needs to push forward the process of making the European economy climate-friendly. Europe needs to maintain its lead in the low-carbon technologies of the future within a fierce worldwide competition. By doing so we can stimulate green growth, safeguard jobs and strengthen our energy security. That is why the Commission has made 'de-carbonising' the EU economy one of the pillars of the Europe 2020 strategy."

President Elisabeth B. Kautz said: "The strong commitment of US mayors to climate protection has been instrumental to placing the issue on the national agenda. Mayors in the US are developing and implementing sustainability plans and comprehensive strategies to protect the environment. The Conference is very pleased to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Committee of the Regions of the European Union, with the support of the European Commission, to continue our close and strong relationship".

Referring to the cooperation agreement with the US mayors and to the CoR's resolution for Cancun, which is on the Committee's agenda tomorrow, President Mercedes Bresso said: "National leaders have a responsibility to the planet to sign an internationally binding agreement on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in Cancun. By signing this memorandum and bringing together their grass-roots climate actions, local and regional leaders on both sides of the Atlantic are underling the need for urgent agreement. Together we will propose a new model for funding local projects out of the Emissions Trading Scheme."

The CoR Plenary was also a landmark occasion for the Covenant of Mayors, with the 2000th town (Satu Mare, RO), the 25th capital city (Berlin, DE) and the 100th region (Murcia, ES) signing the pact. President Bresso said: "The Covenant is entering a new phase. If the Sustainable Energy Action Plans being adopted across the whole of Europe are to be efficiently implemented, political and financial support from the European and national institutions is now more important than ever."

President Bresso's call has been backed by the findings of the CoR Europe 2020 Platform's Survey on sustainable energy policies by EU regions and cities. The survey presents best practice from more than 200 local and regional authorities all over Europe and identifies three necessary success factors to achieve Europe's 20-20-20 goals on the ground: political leadership, a multilevel governance approach and budgetary and technical support to local authorities. The CoR will also forward the findings of the survey, and its proposals for more effective grass roots climate action at the local and regional level, to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, who has called a special energy council for early 2011 to discuss the issue.

Background info for editors

US Conference of Mayors: The US Conference of Mayors (USCM) is the official non-partisan organization of US cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,205 such cities in the US. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official—the mayor. Primary roles of the US Conference of Mayors are to: promote the development of effective national urban policy; strengthen federal-city relationships; ensure that federal policy meets urban needs; provide mayors with leadership and management tools; and create a forum in which mayors can share ideas and information. The US Mayors Climate Protection agreement is the flagship initiative pooling more than 1000 US towns in the fight to climate change.

More information on: www.usmayors.org

Committee of the Regions: The Committee of the Regions is the EU's political 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. The CoR is working with the European Commission on the development of the EU Covenant of Mayors. More information on: www.cor.europa.eu

Covenant of Mayors: The EU Member States have agreed to curb their CO2 emissions by at least 20% by 2020. Signatories of the Covenant of Mayors contribute to these policy objectives through a formal commitment to go beyond this target through the implementation of their Sustainable Energy Action Plan.

More information on www.eumayors.eu

Signature of Memorandum of Understanding: more information on its origins.

The Memorandum of Understanding will be available at the press conference and online immediately after the signing.

For follow-up questions, please contact: us-eu.cooperation@cor.europa.eu

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.

For more information, please contact:

Christian Gsodam

Tel. +32 (0) 2 282 2121

christian.gsodam@cor.europa.eu

To read previous press releases, click here.


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