Reducing carbon emissions in towns and cities and making them greener and cleaner places to live. That is the stated aim of over 1600 Mayors from 36 countries when they met at the European Parliament on May 4th.
Part of the “Covenant of Mayors” initiative it aims to put urban areas at the heart of 21st century cleaner energy. Opening the ceremony Parliament’s President Jerzy Buzek said “we are at the dawn of green revolution, but in this revolution the mayors of our cities are in the frontline”.
The Mayors were also joined by Spanish PM José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero as Madrid currently holds the rotating Presidency of the European Union. He told those present that “we will have to provide subsidies and help to make sure that renewable energy based energy production is profitable, but at the same time this will be a worthwhile investment for the future”.
Bob Winter, the current Lord Provost of Glasgow – said that Scotland’s second city emits over 4 million tonnes of CO2 per year and there are plans to slash this by 30% with a decade.
Emer Costello the Lord Mayor of Dublin pledged that in her city they planned to half CO2 emissions within twenty years. Speaking about Portugal’s capital Lisbon António Costa set out a vision out how they intended to achieve their reductions – namely through better urban planning, reduction of energy use and greater investment in renewable energy.
Supporting this approach were a number of Members of the European Parliament who also attended. German Socialist Jo Leinen said that “the climate conference in Copenhagen has shown that the top-down approach of finding solutions among state leaders did not work. Now the time has come to promote bottom-up strategy and to start transition from the local communities and cities.”
Polish MEP Danuta Hübner of the centre right European People’s Party said that “the most committed supporting structure is the European cohesion policy. All cities are potential beneficiaries of European funding”.
The President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso told the conference that “if your actions plans are totally implemented, as I am sure they will be, you will be contributing one fifth of the total effort needed for the whole EU”.