Policy Recommendations for EU & National governments: Paving a smooth path for ambitious transitions in cities

Policy recommendations for the EU and National Governments to facilitate transitions at the local level

Cities and municipalities are at the heart of key energy paradigms necessary to address incumbent climate challenges.

In 2050, it is expected that 83.7% of Europeans will be living in urban areas, emphasising the role of local authorities to be the first line of defense in light of exacerbating and systematic environmental challenges that impact the livelihood of citizens. Although the anthropologic trends speak for themselves, the EU is still missing integrated approaches that recognise local authorities as legitimate leaders of the ecological transition Europe is venturing in. Enhancing local resilience through vertically imposed mandates that fail to discern territorial circumstances and ambitions, is already set to be a fiasco that would impair cities’ potential to bloom. 

Local authorities are certainly not missing the ambition to drive the struggle towards climate-neutrality, but decarbonisation is not achievable only by goodwill.

Cities need to be provided with the right tools to shape their ecological transition to the needs of their citizens. The previous set of policy recommendations highlighted how local practitioners in administrations and councils, could reframe their systems of governance to address the cross-sectoral features characterising energy and climate planning. However, when it comes to the capacities and networks necessary to empower cities, the ball falls in the court of the EU and National decision-makers. 

Working with the Pilot Cities of the TOMORROW project (Brasov, Brest Métropole, Dublin Region, Mouscron, Niš, and Valencia) shed a light on the features of local governance that accelerate and expand transition roadmaps. However, it also allowed the project to highlight missing catalysts that are far beyond the control of local governments, and if are not adequately addressed, represent active barriers to climate ambitions.

The following policy recommendations target EU and National decision-makers, to urge a revision of legislative frameworks that reflect supporting roles for cities in transition.

Besides the core issue of insufficient and hardly accessible funding directly available to cities, TOMORROW identified concrete solutions to systemic deficiencies. 

These recommendations touch upon the issues and the solutions to the following EU and National barriers: 

  1. Inadequate local staff capacities to plan and implement local roadmaps 
  2. Lacking or ambiguous local/regional transition agencies as project facilitators
  3. Missing permanent climate and energy dialogues (CEDs) to allow local and regional authorities to have exchanges with their national governments and co-decide climate and energy strategies 
  4. Need of national one-stop shops for knowledge-sharing to offer targeted support relevant to specific features of the transition and a European one to present local perspectives for EU files concerning the European Green Deal