In the run-up to #COP26 - The members of the Commission for the Environment, Climate change and Energy (ENVE) of the European Committee of the Regions met virtually to debate on how to ensure a COVID-19 recovery that is green and inclusive and brings along higher climate ambition ahead of the UN's climate summit in Glasgow next November. The meeting included the presentation of four draft opinions: safe and sustainable chemicals for a toxic-free environment, an EU strategy for energy system integration, protecting the maritime environment, and stepping up Europe's 2030 climate ambition towards COP26.
Opening the meeting, Juan ESPADAS (ES/PES), Mayor of Seville and Chair of the CoR's ENVE Commission and Green Deal Going Local working group, said: "Ahead of COP26, the European Union must not only set a clear example in setting up climate targets to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, but also provide concrete solutions to properly involve local and regional authorities. The Edinburgh Declaration on biodiversity shows that this path is possible and I hope we will achieve a similar involvement of cities and regions for Glasgow. Without local and regional authorities there is no climate transition and therefore their role must be fully taken into account."
The meeting included a debate on how to ensure a green recovery from COVID-19 with statements by Amaia BARREDO from the government of the Basque Country, currently presiding over Regions4, the Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development. Arno BONTE, Vice-Mayor of Rotterdam and ICLEI member and Eulalia RUBIO from the Jacques Delors Institute, also intervened.
Members debated on global climate action with MEP Maria SPYRAKI (EL/EPP), Co-chair of the Intergroup Climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development, James GRABERT, Director of Mitigation and Acting Director for Communication and Engagement at UNFCCC, Kirsten DUNLOP, Chief Executive Officer at Climate-KIC, and Dimitrios ZEVGOLIS, Deputy Head of the International Relations Unit and of the EU Delegation to the UN Climate Change Convention, DG CLIMA, European Commission.
Members voted in favour of the enhanced cooperation agreement between the CoR and DG ENER, which sets out joint measures to ensure the successful roll out of the Renovation Wave.
The members of the ENVE commission debated on the following four draft opinions:
Stepping up Europe's 2030 climate ambition towards COP26. The rapporteur and Mayor of Autun, Vincent CHAUVET (FR/RE), said: "My main goal is to offer an equilibrium between the ambitious EU climate target for 2030 and what the different cities and regions can deliver today. But this is not an end in itself - I try to identify what needs to be done to create a wave of change throughout Europe, export this secret ingredient and request a formal role for cities and regions and their contributions to the COP26."
Powering a climate-neutral economy: An EU Strategy for Energy System Integration is the title of a draft opinion led by Gunārs ANSIŅŠ (LV/RE). The Deputy Mayor of Liepāja declared: "The EU Strategy for Energy System Integration has a role to play in the economic recovery of local and regional authorities, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. It is important to set the energy-efficiency-first objective at the local and regional level. Likewise, energy system integration can help local and regional authorities achieve greater energy efficiency as the available resources would be used for the transition to more efficient energy technologies."
Adam STRUZIK (PL/EPP) is the rapporteur of the draft opinion Safe and sustainable chemicals for a toxic-free environment in Europe's cities and regions. The President of the Mazovia Region said: "The chemical strategy for sustainability is an important element of an economic policy based on green solutions. The effects of its deployment are expected by regions and the society. In this opinion, we want to indicate the role of regions in the process of its implementation by focusing on the health of residents and the environment. The strategy is a chance to improve competitiveness through innovation."
Emma NOHREN (SE/Greens), rapporteur of the CoR draft opinion on protecting the marine environment said: "By failing the oceans we are killing our planet. We have already lost valuable time and have not achieved good environmental status in EU seas. Now it is the time to act! Releasing the huge power of EU municipalities and regions would open the floodgates for real action towards restoring our seas."
Green Deal Going Local is a new CoR initiative which aims to place cities and regions at the core of the European Green Deal and ensure that both the EU's sustainable growth strategy and the COVID-19 recovery plans translate into direct funding for cities and regions and tangible projects for every territory. Green Deal Going Local was launched on 15 June 2020 with the creation of a CoR working group. To inspire and accelerate action, Green Deal Going Local includes an online map with 200 best practices.
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