European Cities Working Together for a Climate-Neutral Future

The European Union has decided that Europe will become the first climate-neutral continent. With more than half of its urban population living in small and medium-sized cities, the municipalities represent key players in this endeavour. Local Long-term Climate Neutrality Strategies, that guide the cities in the process, are critical for reaching the necessary socio-ecological transformation and managing a fair transition to local net-zero emissions. EUKI project Ready4NetZero is here to support.

by Alina Alexa, Energy Cities Romania

Published: 07 July 2023

Generally, local authorities are very committed to climate action and willing to take efforts towards reaching climate neutrality. Also, being the closest to the citizens they can offer solutions that are both climate and socially friendly. However, they often have limited capacities, knowledge, technical expertise and financial resources to properly plan their energy transition path. There is a need to support smaller cities with the exchange of knowledge and good practice, as well as to provide capacity building and assistance helping them to plan their paths for climate neutrality.

Ready4NetZero is one of the many initiatives that support European municipalities to achieve the very ambitious goals, focusing on small and medium-sized cities in Croatia, Hungary, Poland and Romania, in developing and implementing local strategies to reach climate neutrality.

The partners’ cities are: Ivanić Grad and Slunj from Croatia; Szeged, Tatabánya and Szentes from Hungary; Cieszyn, Dzierżoniów, Piastów and Siemiatycze from Poland; Gheorgheni, Râmnicu Vâlcea and Simeria from Romania. All the representatives of these municipalities are committed to making a difference in their communities and are very interested in finding new solutions and inspiring projects. Some of them are already taking the first steps, creating a clear vision of their city or implementing the first actions to support the vision.

For example, some of the selected pilot cities have clear plans for 2050 and concrete priorities such as connecting all residents to the centralised heating system based on geothermal energy from deep boreholes, equipping public institutions and residential buildings with solar panels to produce electricity, photovoltaic installations placed at the outskirts of the residential area, installed sockets for charging electric cars and buses in public and private buildings, pedestrianised central areas with no or less traffic on the streets adjacent to the city centre, alongside citizens financial incentives for electric vehicles.

Charging electric cars, Photo: ©Mike b | Pexels

Similar ideas are promoted by all the partners plus other support actions that can include also applying for specific funding, organizing raising awareness campaigns or public debates on local projects related to climate change and green energy.

Ready4Net Zero funded by EUKI is focused on some key directions like the development of capacity, knowledge and skills among the municipality officials, staff and local stakeholders, fostering exchange and networking between municipalities that have decided to take steps towards achieving climate neutrality, elaborating context-specific guidance to developing ambitious Local Long-term Climate Neutrality Strategies as well as a tailored capacity-development programme consisting of webinar series, in-person workshops in pilot cities and a study visit to Germany, kick-starting concrete actions in pilot cities in Croatia, Hungary, Poland and Romania to directly contribute to the implementation of climate protection measures at local level and inspire other EU cities to follow.

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