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17th Sep 2021

Magazine

Regions want to shape Copenhagen climate deal

Shaping the global climate change deal at the upcoming UN conference in Copenhagen is a main priority of the Committee of Regions, an EU advisory body representing the bloc's regional and local governments.

A global deal negotiated in Copenhagen in December by world leaders will ultimately have to be implemented by regional and local authorities, with the Committee of Regions aiming to be a "policy shaper" in this regard, its president, Luc van den Brande, told EUobserver ahead of the CoR plenary session starting on Wednesday.

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  • The climate change deal reached in Copenhagen will have to be implemented by local and regional governments (Photo: Johannes Jansson/norden.org)

During the session, representatives of local and regional governments were set to adopt several recommendations to be tabled in Copenhagen, for instance to involve them in the planning, adoption and implementation of national climate change strategies and action plans.

The EU regions also wanted their own representative "in the EU delegation" at the Copenhagen conference, according to the draft resolution.

The Swedish minister for environment, Andreas Calgren, on behalf of the upcoming EU presidency, was already "very eagerly travelling around to all the member states, trying to form a consensus that could be the EU line during the Copenhagen conference," Sweden's minister for local government and financial markets Mats Odell told journalists on Wednesday.

"I think for the time being, this is a bilateral process between member states. But hopefully member states are applying the principle of subsidiarity and have their national and local levels present in their negotiating processes," he added.

Local and regional representatives already met in Copenhagen from 3-4 June for a mini-summit ahead of the December meeting of world leaders. They also sent their input to national governments, expecting "to be included and get recognition of our role when the national climate strategies and plans are to be implemented throughout the world."

In particular, municipalities called for direct access to the three different funds that should be set up after the Copenhagen conference: one for reducing CO2 levels, another for stimulating green technologies and a third so-called adaptation fund designed for helping developing countries adapt to a warming planet.

Mr Van den Brande said his institution was working on also getting the regional authorities on board, the Covenant of Mayors – a non-binding agreement signed in February by over 500 European cities to reduce CO2 emissions and pollution in their urban areas, for example by smarter traffic planning or greener public transport vehicles.

It is up to the municipalities to draw up energy efficiency action plans with concrete measures and to themselves check that these plans are implemented accordingly, while the EU commission will evaluate and help the signatory cities to make the plans feasible.

Another network of local authorities, Euro-Cities - bringing together 130 large European cities - on Thursday called on EU leaders meeting in Brussels "to formally recognise the role and contribution of local and regional governments in climate mitigation and adaptation policies in the texts to be adopted at the Copenhagen [conference]," a statement reads.

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