Cities are home to 80% of the population in the EU and are responsible for 70% of its greenhouse gas emissions. Urban areas can therefore play a key role in improving energy efficiency and promoting low-carbon development. Cities are important centres of policy innovation and can – among other actions – advance clean energy systems, promote sustainable transport, manage waste and water, and improve energy efficiency in buildings. Cities across Europe are facing similar challenges, and are now attempting to learn from each other and to develop and exchange best practice. The European Commission, under the auspices of DG Energy, has launched the Covenant of Mayors initiative, whose signatories contribute to the policy objectives of the EU Climate Action and Energy Package through a formal commitment to go beyond its targets. In order to accelerate progress, however, these bottom-up initiatives will need to be embedded in and supported by an EU framework that ensures legitimacy and efficiency, builds institutional capacity, develops the necessary tools and meets the financing requirements.
This CEPS Task Force Report explores the different opportunities for cities and businesses to accelerate low-carbon development, while looking at the multiple challenges encountered by cities. These include, in particular, the coordination of existing initiatives; the definition of local authorities’ legal competencies; access to finance; the consistency of EU and member state regulations to avoid double-regulation and double-counting; and the use of consistent and transparent measuring, reporting and verification tools.