EU Science Hub

Covenant of Mayors – a local approach to global warming

A port city in the forground with the dea in the background
Nov 15 2016

Progress of action plans pursued by municipalities adhering to the climate and energy initiative Covenant of Mayors (CoM) reveals an encouraging trend: the first 315 implementation reports of more than 6200 municipalities across  the EU and beyond show an overall achieved greenhouse gas emissions reduction of 23% compared to baseline levels, and they are on track to reach their ambitious goal of 30% reduction by 2020, according to a JRC report presented on 14 November at COP22.

The baseline years range from 1990 to 2012, depending on availability of data in different municipalities, while monitoring years range from 2007-2014. Having kicked off in 2008, the Covenant initiative is one of the few worldwide that has already moved beyond pledges and can present concrete results. Based on 5403 submitted Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs) considered in the sample, the overall GHG emissions reduction commitment of the signatories is 27% by 2020, i.e. 7% percentage points above the minimum requested target of 20% envisaged by EU climate policy.

The observed decline in GHG emissions by 23% between baseline and monitoring years was achieved through a 17% decrease in GHG emissions associated with electricity consumption (due to a lower carbon intensive fuel mix and a more efficient electricity generation power plants); a 36% decrease in GHG emissions from heating and cooling in buildings (due to better energy efficiency, more efficient local district heating production and increased share in renewables sources); and a 7 % emission reduction in the transport sector thanks to more efficient vehicles, shift to public transportation, increased biofuels use and electric mobility.

Urban energy consumption generates about three quarters of global carbon emissions, bringing up a challenge to cities’ authorities and their efforts to implement energy and climate policies. The CoM is a unique initiative that brings together local and regional authorities through voluntary commitment to implement EU climate and energy objectives on their territory. New signatories now pledge to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 40% by 2030.

The peculiarity of the CoM movement compared to other GHG mitigation initiatives is the participation of small and medium size towns (with less than 50 000 inhabitants) in the effort to reduce the GHG emissions (89% from total signatories). At the cut-off date of the analysis, 4th of September 2016, there was a total of 6201 (96.5% of which from EU-28) CoM signatories covering 213 million inhabitants.

The mitigation commitment of the Covenant signatories is related mainly to the emissions associated with energy consumption in sectors which can be influenced by the local authority (housing, services and urban transport) leaving out other emitters such as ETS industry and transport outside the mandate of the local authority (e.g. highways).

The Covenant of Mayors and the Compact of Mayors have joined forces to form the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, which has the potential to mobilise an increasing number of cities for ambitious climate action.


About the EU Covenant of Mayors

The Covenant of Mayors (CoM) was launched in 2008 by the European Commission to support local authorities in the implementation of sustainable energy and climate policies. Building on the Covenant of Mayors, the new Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy was announced in October 2015, based on three pillars: mitigation (40 % CO2 emission reduction target by 2030); adaptation; and secure, sustainable and affordable energy. At 4th September 2016, 6926 local authorities from 54 countries had joined the initiative, representing more than 213 million inhabitants.

In EU Member States, it is estimated that the commitment of CoM signatories (representing 31 % of the EU-28 population in 2014) may contribute with 31 % to the overall 2020 EU-28 emission reduction target.

About the Global Covenant of Mayors

The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy aims to bring together the Compact of Mayors and the EU Covenant of Mayors, the world’s two primary initiatives of cities to assist cities and local governments in their transition to a low-carbon, climate resilient, economy, and demonstrate their global impact.

Led by UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, Michael R. Bloomberg, and European Commission Vice President, Maroš Šefčovič, the coalition comprises more than 7,100 cities across 6 continents and 119 countries, representing over 600 million people or 8% of the global population.