Driving change: Cities’ journey to climate neutrality
The EU Mission “100 Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities by 2030”, or EU Cities Mission, has mobilised 112 cities to become climate neutral by 2030 and to inspire other European cities to follow suit by 2050 and turn Europe into the first carbon-neutral continent. The 112 cities are facing the monumental challenge of showing the way forward towards an inclusive, thriving, climate resilient and sustainable future.
But cities are not alone in this goal. NetZeroCities, a consortium of 33 partners from 13 European countries managing the EU Cities Mission platform, is supporting them to drastically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by providing expertise, hands-on support and a one-stop platform for urban climate neutrality resources, tools, and peer-to-peer collaboration, the NetZeroCities Portal. NetZeroCities’ work is based on a systemic innovation approach to climate action that develops solutions intervening across existing systems in a coordinated way. This approach implies connecting climate actions in cross-sectoral portfolios of cities and engaging with many actors across all levels of governance, bolstered with the support of city advisors to offer intensive, tailored assistance and direct linkage to the Mission Platform. To accelerate collaboration at all levels and address current barriers to reaching climate neutrality, cities are developing Climate City Contracts (CCC), a governance innovation tool capturing cities’ commitments, action plan and investment plan to achieve a realistic pathway towards the 2030 objective. The CCC, supported closely by NetZeroCities, is an iterative learning process gathering all relevant actors to join forces on a common agenda to reach climate neutrality.
In addition to supporting Mission Cities in their journey towards climate neutrality by 2030, NetZeroCities recently launched its Pilot Cities Programme supporting a first cohort of 53 European cities to test and implement innovative approaches to rapid decarbonization. The selected cities will implement systemic and locally designed innovative actions that span multiple areas, from buildings to waste, and levers of change, including governance, finance and policy, addressing all urban systems contributing to climate-neutrality. In May, NetZeroCities will also be opening its Call for Twin Cities, to transfer knowledge and build capacities across Pilot and Twin Cities engaged in the programme. The programme will allow cities to shape each other’s development through knowledge exchange and co-creative problem solving, fostering collaboration for effective climate action.
In this journey towards climate-neutral cities, coordination of efforts, collaboration and learning from each other will be key. National platforms have been emerging to facilitate and coordinate the climate neutrality efforts of cities belonging to a same country and therefore facing similar challenges. At EU level, a vast number of complementary initiatives are contributing to reshape the way we work and live to meet the decarbonisation goal by 2030. In light of the collective efforts made to date and the significant commitment of all the actors involved, at NetZeroCities we are convinced that a bright future for our cities lies ahead.
NetZeroCities, EU Cities Mission representatives and Mission Cities were present at the Cities Forum in March 2023. Photo: NetZeroCities