Regions ahead of COP24: You can count on us

(EurActiv, 3 Dec 2018) The European Committee of the Regions defends the role of local and regional governments in fighting climate change and demands for their voices to be heard along the UN climate process, write Karl-Heinz Lambertz and Markku Markkula.

Karl-Heinz Lambertz is the president and Markku Markkula is the first vice president of the European Committee of the Regions. 

The most recent IPCC report was chilling reading: we need to do far more if we are to avoid the catastrophic consequences of climate change. On our current trajectory, global temperatures will warm by 3°C by 2100 damaging our biodiversity with severe weather affecting millions of people across the globe. The reality is that we are way off track in meeting the under 2°C Paris Agreement goal.

The COP24 in Katowice needs to accelerate our efforts by consolidating firstly, our commitments – through the creation a robust Rule Book and climate financing;  and secondly, our partnerships so we create a more inclusive global governance that involves all levels of government, civil society and businesses.

At a time when national interests are taking precedence over international obligations, we need more ambition. The EU is committed to cutting greenhouse gasses to 80% of 1990 levels by 2050 and recently proposed a long-term strategy to become carbon-neutral by 2050, something our Committee has been calling for since 2015. This is the same target that the IPCC report claims are needed to keep temperatures warming below 1.5°C.

For local and regional leaders greening our economies, cleaning our air, making our homes energy-efficient and ensuring a healthy sustainable supply of food makes not only environmental sense but business sense. The recent New Climate Economy Report estimates that bold climate change could deliver at least US$26 trillion globally in economic benefits by 2030.

Cities and regions have long been rolling up their sleeves: this year we celebrate 10 years since the EU’s Covenant of Mayors was launched – an initiative whereby local and regional authorities voluntarily agree to surpass the EU’s climate and energy targets.

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EurActiv, 3 Dec 2018: Regions ahead of COP24: You can count on us