With COP26 conclusions expected to refer to multilevel and cooperative action, the European Committee of the Regions joins the call for world leaders to endorse the crucial role played by subnational governments in tackling climate change
After two weeks of negotiations, the latest COP26 conclusions highlight the urgent need for multilevel and cooperative action. The reference was deleted in previous drafts, but reinserted after the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), speaking on behalf of the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities Constituency, called for it to be included during the COP26 stocktaking plenary session on 11 November, the cities and regions day at COP26. The latest draft also urges Parties to further integrate adaptation into local, national and regional planning and recognise the important role of non-Party stakeholders in contributing to the goals of the Paris Agreement. Looking ahead to the COP27, a coalition of international networks – led by the CoR and representing cities and regions worldwide – today adopted a political declaration in support of further strengthening multilevel collaboration as a prerequisite to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C by the end of the century.
The COP26 political declaration, endorsed today by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities Constituency (LGMA), ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, Climate Kic, Regions4, Climate Alliance, COSLA and AER – Assembly of European Regions, reinforces the message of the LGMA Constituency – the voice of cities and regions in the United Nations climate talks – that any pledges and commitments taken in Glasgow will only become a reality if every level of government is involved in their implementation.
In the political declaration, subnational governments call on the Parties of the Paris Agreement to include a system of Regionally and Locally Determined Contributions (RLDCs) as a complement to Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – the commitments made by each country to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change. Progress reports from each country on their work towards meeting the goals set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement should also include a section on climate commitments, actions and achievements undertaken by subnational governments. The full political declaration can be found here.
During his speech, Apostolos Tzitzikostas, the President of the European Committee of the Regions and Governor of the Region of Central Macedonia in Greece said: “Local and regional governments deliver 70% of climate mitigation, and 90% of climate adaptation, yet still do not have a formal seat in the UN climate negotiations, nor were their views properly represented by the EU in Glasgow. This is legally, financially and democratically wrong. Without ownership, citizens living in regions, cities and villages cannot be expected to support such an over bureaucratic top-down process. The COP26 lacks not only ambition in climate targets, but realism in governance. It now falls to the world’s sub-national governments to unite and make up for the national government failings”.
Juan Espadas (ES/PES), Mayor of Seville, Spain, Chair of the CoR’s Commission for Environment, Climate Change and Energy (ENVE) and of the Green Deal Going Local Working Group, declared: “We worked tirelessly to ensure that multi-level cooperation was properly mentioned in the COP26 conclusions. We made a significant step forward, but the progress is too slow which is in conflict with the need to speed up climate action. The role of cities and regions cannot be summed up in one sentence added at the last minute: there has to be a structural recognition of sub-national authorities in the framework of the UNFCCC, following the example of the Edinburgh Declaration of the COP on Biodiversity. The Committee of the Regions will continue to cooperate with LGMA and the UNFCCC to ensure that COP27 will also be about multilevel governance, to empower cities and regions with the recognition and the means to deliver”.
Rafał Trzaskowski (PL/EPP), Mayor of Warsaw, Poland, Rapporteur of the CoR opinion on the European Climate Pact and the Revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive and member of the political Board of the Covenant of Mayors and of C40, appealed to the UNFCCC to keep the multilevel and collaborative action as well as a reference to local and regional levels in the final conclusions of the COP26. More importantly, he stressed the urgent need to put well-functioning climate governance into practice. “Only by working together we can make our cities, villages, and municipalities more sustainable and more resilient”, said Mayor Trzaskowskiin his remarks.
At COP26, the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) Constituency, composed of local and regional authorities from the all over the world, has been calling for greater recognition from the Parties of the Paris Agreement of their role in reversing global warming, as well as for a formal seat in the climate negotiations and the full acknowledgment of multilevel collaboration as a prerequisite for limiting temperature rises to 1. 5°C by the end of the century. In their declaration published on 31 October, World Cities Day and the opening day of the Glasgow conference, the LGMA Constituency published their Time 4 Multilevel Action Roadmap, calling for “a new decade where multilevel collaborative action becomes the new normal” in the fulfilment of the objectives set up by the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
On the cities and regions day at COP26, Thursday 11 November, Andries Gryffroy (BE/EA), member of the Flemish Parliament and one of the CoR delegates in Glasgow, took the floor on behalf of the LGMA constituency at the COP26 Plenary, calling negotiators to add the wording “multi-level and collaborative action” in the last paragraph of the preamble and in point 75 to add the wording “multi-level” when mentioning the importance of international collaboration. Finally, on point 76, he highlighted the disappointment of the LGMA constituency that the reference to cities and subnational government had been completely removed.