A new study from a European-wide group of researchers titled "How are cities planning to respond to climate change? Assessment of local climate plans from 885 cities in the EU-28" has praised the Covenant of Mayors initiative for mobilising European local governments to plan and take action in the field of climate mitigation and adaptation.
The study, published in the renowned Journal of Cleaner Production, has conducted a thorough analysis of the state of play of local climate and energy plans developed by 885 EU cities (data collected in January 2017). The researchers found that city size, national legislation on local climate and energy planning as well as participation in city networks / initiatives (e.g. like the Covenant of Mayors) can positively influence the development of local climate and energy plans. Furthermore, they concluded that:
- 66% of analyzed EU cities have a mitigation plan, 26% an adaptation plan, and 17% a joint plan covering both mitigation and adaptation (i.e. a SECAP)
- More plans have been developed in Central & Northern EU compared to other geographic areas
- 70% of analyzed EU cities with more than 1 million inhabitants have a mitigation and/or adaptation plans
In their study, the European researchers found a clear influence from the Covenant of Mayors to boost local climate and energy planning efforts, especially in EU Member States where there is no legal requirement for cities to develop and implement local action plans in these fields:
“In the light of these results, we suggest that, in countries where autonomous LCPs (i.e. local plans) are rare and cities are not required by national legislation to develop plans, such as Cyprus, Slovenia, Latvia, Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Malta, but also Portugal , Romania and Spain, international networks such as the Covenant of Mayors raise the awareness, build the capacity and, often through EU-funded projects, provide the expertise and the funding necessary to develop LCPs.”
Out of the 885 EU cities they analyzed, 40% (356 cities) are signatories of the Covenant. Nearly all of these (334 cities) have a SEAP, and more than 1/3 of these have developed already a climate adaptation plan or SECAP. The study notes that "most [of these Covenant] cities have submitted an action plan and many more already monitor their results". Especially Croatian, Lithuanian and Portuguese Covenant cities are well advanced in the Covenant process, they conclude.
Finally, the European researchers state that the "[European] Covenant of Mayors has an important role, encouraging smaller cities, e.g., in Italy and Spain, as well as in other countries, to engage in climate action". This European group of scientists plans to update their state of play analyis of local climate and energy planning in Europe regularly, thereby informing local, national and EU debate on this critical issue. We look forward to hearing more from them!