Climate Change: EU’s ongoing/upcoming initiatives and the regional perspectives

By the CPMR Secretariat


Responding to the EU climate change agenda is an important priority for the CPMR’s regions and features prominently in our reflection on the future of Europe.

In March this year we launched a new CPMR Task Force on Climate and Energy, chaired by the Brittany Region and supported by our Vice President from Zuid Holland. There has been very strong interest in this subject with 23 from all four corners of Europe participating in the first meeting.

The opening meeting of the Climate Task Force showed that very significant work has been achieved to push forward marine energy and integrated coastal management taking on board climate change issues.

The CPMR’s six Geographic Commissions have taken steps to foster joint projects between members on water management, energy efficiency, renewable energy, local grid and interconnections, cross-border cooperation, access to climate funding, exchange of experiences and show-casing.

During 2017, three further meetings of the Task Force are planned, and these will be focused on two issues on the EU agenda this year:

  • Review of the EUs Adaptation Strategy: our meeting this week in Brussels
  • Clean Energy Package: our meeting in September

Our aim is to prepare the CPMR’s policy positions on both these issues, for consideration at the third meeting of the Task Force during our Annual General Assembly, taking place in Helsinki in October. This third meeting will also be used to structure our work plan for 2018.

We saw from the strong engagement of local and regional governments in the COP21 Agenda discussions that there is a high level of awareness and political commitment to delivering change on the ground. There is increasing recognition that the EUs climate agenda, can only be delivered with the full engagement and commitment of local and regional authorities across the continent.

This echoes the increasing recognition of the central place of sub-national authorities in delivering the wider Sustainable Development Goals agenda, which was the subject of a separate blog on this web-forum last month.

Central to the work of our Climate Change Task Force will be to highlight the experiences of regional governments and other players in translating the EUs adaptation and mitigation goals into concrete action on the ground.

Our session on the EU Adaptation Strategy tomorrow looks at how this strategy has been put into practice in terms of three key themes:

  • European policy tools and their effectiveness in enabling action on the ground at the regional level, with examples from Murcia and the Balearic Islands in Spain
  • Governance issues relating to implementing adaptation measures, with examples from Midtjylland in Denmark and Zuid Holland in the Netherlands
  • Knowledge sharing and innovation, with the experiences of Catalunya in Spain and Nouvelle Aquitaine in France

We are pleased that the European Commission’s DG Climate Change will participate in this session and listen first-hand to our regions’ experiences, and it will be extremely valuable to have the IEEP (which is carrying out the Commission’s evaluation of the adaptation strategy) present as well.

Equally, we will be able to draw from the experiences of the NRG4SD network, which promotes the role of sub-national governments in sustainable development globally, and the Climate Action Network, on how adaptation strategies can be effectively delivered and implemented on the ground.

As regards mitigation, the EU is currently in the process of reviewing and updating most of its climate-related legislation to bring it into line with the 2030 targets. One of these important pieces of legislation for regional governments is the Clean Energy Package, published in November 2016. The package of proposed legislation stretches to more than one thousand pages and aims to reform the EU’s energy system.

It includes, among others, a revision of the directives on renewable energy and energy efficiency as well as of the internal market directive, while also putting forward some new elements concerning the governance of the Energy Union under the new Governance regulation.

Our Task Force meeting in September will focus on how this package impacts on competences of regional authorities, drawing out the practical experiences of our member regions in supporting renewable and clean energy technologies on the ground, and highlighting the bottlenecks that remain to be addressed.

The CPMR’s regions have a wealth of experience and knowledge to share: they represent the diversity of geographical contexts and environments that is the reality of climate change. It is vitally important that European policy tools support, stimulate and enable the development of genuinely home-grown actions to adapt or mitigate climate warming.

The European Union has been a global leader in climate change and this role is even more important than ever given the concerning developments in the US with the Trump administration’s rejection of the Paris Agreement.

It is clear in a post-Brexit EU27 that climate change will be one of the flagship policies of Europe on the global arena, and we aim to ensure that there is clear recognition of the central place and need for local and regional governments in ensuring the ambitious targets are delivered in practice.