Either the Green Deal will be local, or it won’t be. “We have the collective responsibility to lead our societies, this process needs to include our citizens. We want cities and regions to be part of it. We need to make sure that everybody wins!”. These were the words of Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of the Green Deal, in front of the members of the European Committee of the Regions today.
Progressive-led European cities and regions know that this is true. The Green New Deal we want is not just an offset of specific pieces of legislation but a real transformation of our societies that will need to include all levels of government, every place and each citizen if we want it to happen.
While national governments around the world struggle to deliver on the solutions to fight growing inequalities and the climate crisis, progressive cities are ready to deliver a Green New Deal with daily concrete actions to make our communities more inclusive and to build opportunities for all people.
“This is a new opportunity for the European project to get even more legitimacy. To do this we need cities and regions to be involved. It is not possible to lead such a transformation without the commitment of cities and regions. When we talk about climate action, I agree we need a plan with resources and public and private investments. We need more resources from the EU. The resources of cohesion policy continue to be essential for the European project but the Green Deal projects needs its own resources to achieve its objectives”, said Juan Espadas, our member coordinator for the Green Deal and Mayor of Seville (Spain), during the plenary debate.
In view of the announced “European Green Deal” (to be presented within 100 days of the new European Commission mandate - as promised by the new president of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen), our Group put forward concrete ideas on how this can be delivered at a local level:
- 2050| At the latest. Our demand is that the climate neutrality objective is set for 2050 at the latest, and not just for 2050. We believe that the European Union must deliver as early as possible on this target and that the radical overhaul must begin now.
- COHERENCE | The Green Deal should be an agenda-setting tool that leads to the integration of sustainability criteria into all EU policies, macroeconomic priorities and financial instruments like the European Semester and the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027.
- PLACE-BASED APPROACH | The Green Deal must adopt a holistic, place-based approach, which proposes concrete solutions that take into account the economic, social, geographic and environmental challenges and opportunities of the regions and cities, leaving no places and no people behind.
- HOUSING | We want the Green Deal to include an EU Action Plan on Affordable Housing. This is crucial to secure a just transition.
- ENERGY POVERTY | We expect the Green Deal to work towards eradicating energy poverty. In order for the transition to be just, measures must be foreseen to ensure that vulnerable people can benefit from warmer, more energy-efficient homes that make use of renewable technologies such as solar energy.
- FOOD | The Green Deal must promote sustainable farming and a healthy and environmentally friendly food system. We also propose to double the land area used for organic farming (in comparison with 2017) and to decrease by 30% the greenhouse gas emissions coming from agriculture and from the use of pesticides.
- MOBILITY | The Green Deal must support clean mobility and local authorities in achieving this goal.
- FUNDS | The Sustainable Europe Investment Plan of EUR 1 trillion in investment between 2021 and 2030, the creation of a European Climate Bank and the Just Transition Fund all go in the right direction. However, it should be taken into account that the cohesion policy also has a great role to play in this matter as the main financial instrument in implementing the transitions’ objectives (more can be read on our appeal “No Places and No People Left Behind in the EU” that was signed with the S&D Group in the European Parliament). Our position is clear: the money for the Green Deal must not be taken away from the cohesion policy. The cohesion policy should instead be made an integral part of the Green Deal's delivery. We need to make sure that this is accompanied by a phasing out of all subsidies that are not in line with the Green Deal objectives (notably for fossil fuels).
- CITIZENS’ PARTICIPATION | The Green Deal must be among the topics of the upcoming Conference on the Future of Europe, as the climate crisis has a direct impact on the wellbeing of the EU’s citizens. We thus demand a structured permanent mechanism for citizens’ participation.
As progressive cities and regions, we will continue to work to deliver a locally based EU Green Deal, together with the S&D Group in the European Parliament, the Party of European Socialists and the wider progressive family.