Ten European Cities Awarded for 2030 Climate Neutrality Plans

Aerial view of Madrid, one of ten cities recently recognized with EU Mission for Climate Neutral and Smart Cities label

(Credit UN Habitat)

by | Oct 13, 2023

Ten European cities have been awarded the Label of the EU Mission for Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities, which recognizes their plans to become carbon neutral by 2030.

In order to achieve this approval, the cities have all successfully developed a Climate City Contract. These contracts outline a given city’s pathway toward carbon neutrality, which may include clean mobility, green urban planning, or energy efficiency improvements, among others. The EU Mission Label received upon approval allows cities access to public funding and may help attract private investment toward achieving their given climate goals.

The cities recognized by the EU Mission Label are Sønderborg, Denmark; Mannheim, Germany; Madrid, Valencia, Valladolid, Vitoria-Gasteiz, and Zaragoza, Spain; Klagenfurt, Austria; Cluj-Napoca, Romania; and Stockholm, Sweden.

The EU Mission for Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities

The EU Mission for Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities includes 100 cities from all 27 member states and 12 additional cities associated with the EU Research Program, Horizon Europe. The initiative plans to eventually achieve Climate City Contracts for all 100 cities.

The EU claims to have started this program because of the disproportionate impact cities have on the environment. Urban areas account for over 70% of global emissions and consume over 65% of the world’s energy, so the EU has focused its efforts on carbon neutrality in these emissions-intensive areas.

“Cities and towns are at the frontline of the just green transition,” said Maros Sefcovic, executive vice president for the European Green Deal, interinstitutional relations, and foresight. “Full engagement is needed at the local level to meet the 55% greenhouse gas emission reduction target by 2030 and the commitment to make Europe climate-neutral by 2050.”

Cities Take Concrete Steps Towards Carbon Neutrality

The cities recognized, along with many other cities worldwide, have found a variety of ways to incorporate sustainable practices into city operations.

One of the recently-recognized cities, Madrid, has implemented the largest smart waste system in Europe in order to reduce emissions, traffic, and noise pollution. The system uses sensors in bins containing different waste types, where they collect data to inform route planning and efficient waste collection. Other cities have started to use emissions-free delivery vehicles or further their development using sustainable building materials, among a wide range of other decarbonization strategies.

The EU Mission program intends to encourage these changes, promoting engagement from multiple stakeholders in bringing new sustainability proposals to life.

“The ten cities that are being awarded today are true pioneers: I am impressed with their commitments for concrete actions, but this is only the beginning,” said Sefcovic. “The cities need help from their national and regional governments, their local businesses, investors, and innovators, to put their plans into practice. I invite all of them to engage with the cities and to see how they can contribute. I also encourage all cities in Europe to follow suit and become frontrunners for climate neutrality.”

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