Imagine the Urban Future – zero emission cities

25 June 2019

The latest in our series of ‘Imagine The Urban Future’ events took place on Monday 17 June, in Brussels. Representatives of the municipalities of Amsterdam, Malaga, Oslo, and Stockholm were invited to showcase cities’ climate ambitions, as well as the feasibility and need for Europe to develop an ambitious 2050 climate vision.

Anna-Lisa Boni, EUROCITIES secretary general, opened the debate by highlighting the great leadership cities have shown in tackling climate change and recalling the need for broader and increased action at the level of the European Union

Quentin Genard, from the thinktank E3G, presented a brief overview of where Europe currently stands in the energy transition and stressed the importance of the role of cities in a longer-term vision. He highlighted the need for cities to effectively manage the energy transition – a process that is already under way – rather than fall victim to it.

Cities’ climate ambitions have recently been put in focus following a survey conducted by EUROCITIES (with 74 respondents) demonstrating the high level of commitment of a diverse range of cities throughout Europe. 93% of cities have an emission reduction target set for 2030 – with nearly two-thirds committed to a longer-term 2050 vision. These findings demonstrate clearly the broad commitment and support cities have for the European Council to adopt an ambitious 2050 climate vision for Europe.

Juliane Kürschner from the city of Amsterdam and Morten Nordskag from the city of Oslo had then the opportunity to develop more on their municipality’s climate strategies. Amsterdam is planning to invest €350 million into its climate strategy and aim to achieve 95% CO2 reduction by 2050. Oslo shared impressive results showing a continual drop in emissions since 2016 (between 2016 and 2017 emissions were reduced by 8.8% and by a further 8% between 2017 and 2018). To ensure continued progress on this trajectory, the City of Oslo has developed a number of tough measures and targets: carbon free public transport by end of 2020, and incentives to electrify heating systems and public transport.

After the presentations, our moderator Jean Paul Judson invited the presenters to join Bjorn Hugosson from Stockholm and Carols Sanchez from Malaga to share the climate ambitions to reach net zero targets by 2040 and 2050 respectively. By referring to concrete tools and mechanisms – including the development of a climate budget -Amsterdam, Oslo, Stockholm and Malaga demonstrated the initiative cities are taking to concretely integrate climate as a consideration within their finance and procurement systems highlighting that the required transition is already happening at the local level.

Cities remain key actors in fighting climate change given that 75% of Europeans live in urban areas, but cities need support in achieving their climate targets. Nonetheless, EUROCITIES’ survey reveals that only 42% of cities have been consulted at national level on draft climate action plans. Morten Nordskag from the city of Oslo, repeatedly emphasised that combination of national, regional and local measures as a key element in the successful energy transition in Oslo. The articulation of the different levels of governance, particularly with the national level, must be kept in mind before the National climate and energy plans being adopted by the end of the year.

Link to photos here: