The current COVID-19 crisis should not be misused as a pretext for delaying urgent climate action, write key members of the European Covenant of Mayors Board, in an open letter addressed to Ursula Von der Leyen, President of the European Commission .
This crisis has confronted the global community with major challenges in a very short period of time, but "local communities, cities and regions remain on the frontlines of the response to the crisis," say the signatories, which include Katarina Luhr, deputy mayor of Stockholm, on behalf of EUROCITIES.
As national governments and the EU look now towards preparing relief packages "intended to put the economy back on track, the best way to support cities and regions in the recovery efforts is to think long term and “accelerate the energy and climate transition channelling investments towards the transformation to a climate neutral society” claim the board members. The post-covid recovery will also be a great opportunity for EU and member states to stop indirect subsidies to fossil fuels,
"Otherwise the consequences of climate change will lead to much more profound and long-term crises," reads the letter.
Indeed, many cities are already progressing in such efforts. For example:
- The City of Amsterdam (NL) decided to make use of the “Doughnut-Model” they have worked on over the last 5 years to guide their recovering measures.
- The City of Ghent (BE) has installed a “Relaunch taskforce” to develop short- and long-term measures focusing on the most vulnerable and has mobilized 25 million euro to overcome the corona crisis.
- The city of Milan (IT) announced an ambitious scheme to reduce car use after lockdown - transforming 35 km of streets over to cyclists and pedestrians.
However, to ensure these are not merely disjointed efforts, and that Europe continues to move towards achieving its climate ambitions, European solidarity across different levels of government is needed now more than ever.
The Covenant of Mayors – Europe is an initiative bringing together over 10,000 cities and towns to take climate and energy action and secure a better future for their citizens.
Signatories pledge to contribute to achieving the EU 40% greenhouse gas-reduction target by 2030. They develop strategies to coordinate mitigation and adaptation to climate change and alleviate energy poverty.
Read the full letter attached below: