EU, US mayors stress cities’ role in global warming fight

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Mayors from both sides of the Atlantic have teamed up to ensure that international climate negotiators recognise the important role played by cities in adapting to climate change as they gather in Copenhagen to agree on a post-Kyoto treaty in December.

On a visit to Brussels yesterday (7 October), the vice-president of the US Conference of Mayors met with her European counterparts to devise strategies to better bundle efforts in the fight against climate change.

The meeting took place ahead of a November event which will see Eurocities, a network of major European cities, sign a joint appeal along with US mayors to urge heads of state to acknowledge cities’ key role in protecting the climate and adapting to the unavoidable consequences of global warming.

“Although our national government did not sign the Kyoto Protocol, almost 1,000 US mayors have subsequently signed the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, pledging to meet or beat Kyoto Protocol targets,” Kautz told the plenary session of the EU’s Committee of the Regions (CoR).

“Mayors continue to devise successful, effective strategies for climate protection and to push national leaders to support these efforts,” she added, promising that the mayors would work hard to get US Senators to ratify the Copenhagen treaty.

To reinforce climate efforts done at local level, Kautz discussed with EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs and CoR President Luc Van den Brande how the EU’s Covenant of Mayors could work together with her organisation.

Possible initiatives discussed included “twinning for greening” arrangements whereby European cities and towns would team up with their US counterparts to share experiences and best practices. Such projects could then be publicised and used to inform citizens.

Joint information campaigns to raise citizens’ awareness about energy savings have also been proposed.

“If the battle against climate change is to be won, it will have to be fought in the cities. I’m very proud that the mayors of America and Europe are willing to work together in this endeavour, and I am convinced that the role of the administration which is closest to the citizen – the municipalities – will play a major role in mobilising efforts to reach an ambitious agreement in Copenhagen,” said Commissioner Piebalgs.

The Committee of the Regions is pushing for greater involvement for local governments in the EU’s climate adaptation strategy proposed by the Commission in April (EURACTIV 02/04/09). It argues that it is at regional level that the impacts of climate change, such as floods or extreme temperatures, will have to be dealt with, calling for more resources to be allocated to local authorities.

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