Today, ten European cities were awarded the Label of the EU Mission for Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities, one of the EU Missions in Horizon Europe. The EU Mission Label is an important milestone as it recognises the cities’ plans to achieve climate-neutrality already by 2030 and aims to facilitate access to public and private funding towards that objective.
The cities that have received the 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 Label is an acknowledgement of the successful development of Climate City Contracts, which outline the cities’ overall vision for climate neutrality, and contain an action plan as well as an investment strategy. Cities co-create their Climate City Contracts with local stakeholders, including the private sector and citizens. A first group of cities presented their Contracts in April 2023, which were reviewed by the Commission with the support of experts, including from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Joint Research Centre (JRC). Following a positive review, cities receive an EU Mission Label, which is intended to facilitate access to EU, national, and regional funding and financing sources, in particular private investment.
These ten cities are paving the way for others to move faster towards a fair green and digital transition, and they set an example for inclusive co-creation of policy at the local level. In total, 100 EU cities participate in the EU Cities Mission, with 12 additional cities from countries associated to Horizon Europe.
The Commission, together with the Mission Platform, currently managed by the project NetZeroCities, will continue supporting the effective implementation of the Climate City Contracts. Cities that received the EU Mission Label can now use it as a sign of confidence in their climate neutrality plans, especially when approaching public and private funders. The Commission, through the Mission Platform, will continue to support cities with hands-on advice and funding programmes, such as a €32 million pilot programme combined with a twinning programme. Another call for pilot cities with a budget of €20 million is currently open until 6 November.
All cities that have submitted their Climate City Contracts, whether or not they are awarded the EU Mission Label, are receiving feedback on the areas that may be further developed, with the support of the Mission Platform. The Commission expects to receive more Contracts for review in October 2023.
Cities account for more than 70% of global CO₂ emissions and consume over 65% of the world’s energy. Urban action is crucial for climate mitigation and can contribute significantly to accelerating the efforts to achieve the legally-binding commitment to achieve climate-neutrality in the EU as a whole by 2050, as well as to the EU’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 and more generally delivering the European Green Deal. The EU Cities Mission aims to help European cities become climate-neutral, offering cleaner air, safer transport and less congestion and noise to their citizens.
In April 2022, 100 cities in the EU and 12 cities in countries associated to Horizon Europe were selected. They all aim for climate neutrality by 2030, testing innovative cross-sectoral approaches, including for citizen engagement, stakeholder management and internal governance. By so doing, they will act as experimentation and innovation hubs to enable all European cities to follow suit by 2050.
The Cities Mission is one of five EU Missions under Horizon Europe that offer concrete solutions to some of our greatest societal challenges. They have ambitious goals and aim to deliver concrete results by 2030. The other Missions focus on Adaptation to Climate Change, Cancer, Ocean and Waters, and Soil. In its Communication “EU Missions two years on: assessment of progress and way forward” in July 2023, the Commission proposed the launch of an additional Mission on the New European Bauhaus.
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Cities and towns are at the frontline of the just green transition. Full engagement is needed at local level to meet the 55% greenhouse gas emission reduction target by 2030 and the commitment to make Europe climate-neutral by 2050. 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: 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.
These ten cities are the demonstration of the new role that research and innovation can have on finding concrete solutions for today’s biggest challenges. Working together with citizens and local stakeholders, the Mission is transforming 112 cities into more liveable spaces for everyone, acting like innovation hubs and setting an example for all European cities to follow suit. We will keep supporting all Mission cities in their path towards climate neutrality!
I welcome the central role that transport has within the Climate City Contracts that the first 10 cities have completed. Cities are the test bed for a multitude of solutions to offer climate-neutral and sustainable transport solutions for our citizens and businesses. The 10 cities we recognise today will benefit from easier access to both public and private financing streams. This will be essential to help them implement the pioneering strategies they have adopted.
The trailblazer cities that are receiving an EU Mission Label today are showing us how local action that contributes to zero pollution, biodiversity and circular economy can be planned and quantified. I am particularly pleased that seven of the ten cities are also Green Capital and Green Leaf Award winners and Green City Accord signatories. I want to specially mention our next year’s Green Capital, Valencia in Spain.