Implementing the Paris Agreement: EU cities and regions in energy transition

Wed 9, October 2019
14:30 - 17:00 CET

Web streaming (14:30-16:00)

Following the Paris Agreement, the EU has committed to reducing annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40% and 80% compared to 1990 levels by the years 2030 and 2050 respectively. However, limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels requires higher ambitions and a rapid transition across sectors to a sustainable, low-emission energy system based on shared, integrated solutions. Close cooperation across all levels of government and civil society is essential to meet these objectives. Therefore, the success of the energy transition depends on the ability to involve sub-national authorities to manage this change, starting with best practices, but also understanding local limitations and obstacles.

The Committee of the Region’s (CoR) opinion on the EU energy transition strategy (ENVE-VI/040) reiterates these points and underlines that the transition needs to be innovation-driven, relying on resilient local infrastructures and security of supply. Investments and financial expertise need to be fostered at local level, increasing the resilience of the energy system through moderating demand, diversifying sources, and promoting cohesion.

The CoR’s opinion on the "A Clean Planet for All" communication (ENVE-VI/037) confirms these notions and calls on the EC to propose a regulatory framework that includes health, environmental, economic and social aspects and for the establishment of a Climate Neutrality Observatory. It calls for stronger utilization of local policy initiatives such as the Covenant of Mayors (CoM) to set up permanent consultation mechanisms towards 2050, based on the Talanoa Dialogue. Additionally, it calls on the European Commission to guarantee that National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) are aligned with the Paris Agreement and developed through multi-level dialogue, providing an institutional framework to connect Local Determined Contributions (LDCs) with National Determined Contributions (NDCs) within the UNFCCC processes.

This event will focus on these topics by featuring CoR rapporteurs who will deliver key messages followed by a global perspective from ICLEI, the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) Focal Point, spotlights from DG ENER and CoR, as well as good examples of local 2050 strategies from cities and regions. The plenary session will follow an interactive World Café, engaging participants in informal and in-depth discussions on key topics of strategic importance to both transitions, e.g. smart cities and communities, islands, coal regions, energy poverty and CoM.

This session is conceptualised and organised with the support of the H2020 project C-Track 50 (No 784974).


Lastest agenda available here.

Giorgia Rambelli, Moderator, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, European Secretariat, Germany.
Eero Ailio, Adviser on Energy Transition and local governance, DG ENER, European Commission, Belgium.
Yunus Arikan, Head of Global Policy and Advocacy, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, Germany.
Laura Bazen, Climate activist, Rise for Climate Belgium, France.
Jerzy Buzek, Chair of the ITRE Committee, European Parliament, Poland.
Wioletta Dunin-Majewska, Policy Coordinator, Retail Markets, European Commission, DG ENER, Belgium.
Michele Emiliano, President of the Puglia Region; CoR rapporteur on the Long Term Strategy, Puglia Region, Italy.
Gustaf Landahl, Project Coordinator, GrowSmarter, City of Stockholm, Sweden.
Giorgia Rambelli, Moderator, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, European Secretariat, Germany.
Josh Roberts, Policy Officer, European federation of renewable energy cooperatives (REScoop), Belgium.
Carsten Rothballer, Moderator, ICLEI –Local Governments for Sustainability, European Secretariat, Germany.
Witold Stępień, member Lodzkie Regional Assembly and CoR Rapporteur on Implementing the Paris Agreement through innovative and sustainable energy transition at regional and local level, Lodzkie Regional Assembly, Poland.
Aleksandra Tomczak, Moderator, Europen Commission DG ENER, Belgium.
Kata Tüttő, Representative of Local Government of District 12 of Budapest; CoR rapporteur on energy poverty, Local Government of District 12 of Budapest, Hungary.
Sarah Zamoum, Climate activist, Rise for Climate Belgium, France.
Participatory Lab - world café, ideas labs
A greener Europe
CoR - ENVE commission, European Commission DG ENER, ICLEI
English (EN), Français (FR), Italiano (IT), Polski (PL)
JDE 51.
Address: Rue Belliard 101, 1040 Brussels

Session summary

What is the way forward for European regions and cities in the energy transition to a climate neutral Europe by 2050? In open group and plenary discussions, the session spotlighted opportunities, solutions and possible pathways of a European energy transition from different thematic and contextual backgrounds, namely coal regions, islands, energy poverty, smart cities and energy communities.

With the clear ambition for Europe to raise the bar internationally and to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, contributions focused on how to decarbonise Europe’s energy supply in and with its regions, cities and citizens. Embracing Europe’s multilevel governance mechanisms and the diverse preconditions, particularly in coal and island regions, participants stressed the need for a holistic, equitable and ambitious strategy taking into account regional and local perspectives and setting aside concrete measures and instruments.

The session sought to define an according mix of well-synchronised short-, medium-, and long-term measures offering citizens viable alternatives and support to replace incomes from the fossil fuel sector and to unlock the assets of the transition. Debating not only targeted, financial support via a separate fund for coal and carbon intensive regions in the next Multiannual Financial Framework, participants also debated pros and cons of carbon taxation models. Additionally, with the transition hinging on acceptability of measures, demonstration and pilot projects were singled out as means to establish new technologies and to bring citizens on board as active stakeholders of the change.

Seeking to create synergies instead of competition between regions, the session set out the clear target for policy makers and stakeholders on all levels to provide concrete, visible support for mastering the ambitious social and economic changes required for a successful energy transition.

The panel concluded on the urgency for creating momentum in international climate negotiations until 2020 to reach the 1,5°C target and the crucial role for local governments in defining and implementing according climate strategies and actions.

In line with that goal, speakers and participants reconfirmed their commitment multilevel governance processes and to cooperate and exchange on best practices for a fair and just energy transition that is beneficial for all.

Panel speakers included Jerzy Buzek (European Parliament, ITRE Committee), Witold Stępień (CoR Member, Lódzkie Regional Assembly), Yunus Arikan (ICLEI) and Sarah Zamoum (Rise for Climate Belgium), who provided the greater international, European and local strategic and policy framework, as well as a citizen’s perspective.  

The session, organised by the CoR ENVE Commission, DG ENER and ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, further received contributions from the C-Track 50 Horizon 2020 project, Paul Baker (Coal Regions in Transition), Gustaf Landhal (GrowSmarter), Wioletta Dunin-Majewska (DG ENER), Josh Roberts (Rescoop), Laura Bazen (Climate Rise Belgium) and Eero Ailio (DG ENER).

The sessions were moderated by Giorgia Rambelli and Carsten Rothballer from ICLEI EUROPE. 

Take away message

R. Pollock: "There must be more concrete demonstration projects in coal mining communities which create hope and belief in transition amongst the communities' residents and all EU citizens"


W. Dunin-Majewska: 16 million EU citizens live on islands; most of them rely heavily on imported and subsidised fossil fuels. Decarbonisation of EU islands will amount to a substantial reduction of CO2 emissions in Europe. The time to act is now! Let’s seize environmental and monetary benefits for islands and mainland alike.

J.Buzek: A Just Transition Fund to support transition in our coal regions, as the most vulnerable among carbon intensive regions, is even more justified and urgent in light of EU 2050 long-term climate strategy and the “Green Deal”. Separate MFF budget line and new, additional money for the Fund are crucial.

E.Ailio: When climate is the problem, energy is most of the solution, one built not just on supply but also demand side provisions in EU energy law. Citizens in the centre cannot be a slogan, it must be a reality. With a just transition Europe can only win.

Y.Arikan: There is no nation whose climate plan is fit for the Paris Agreement. The EU must demonstrate leadership by raising the ambition of its NDC in 2020 by ensuring a full alignment of European national plans (NCEPs) with those under the Covenant of Mayors (SECAPs) as an example of multilevel and collaborative climate action.

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