Over 54% of European mayors who responded to a recent survey put climate action among their top three priorities for 2023, with many urging European Union parliamentarians for better dialogue and increased spending for a faster energy transition.
The inaugural Eurocities Monitor survey sought to “take the pulse” of European mayors and “uncover the major challenges, priorities, and trends that shape urban affairs in 2023.” It drew responses from about 43% of the mayors polled.
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The majority of mayors in 92 large cities across the EU listed climate action as a top priority, reports Politico. Sustainable mobility ranked second, with almost a quarter of all mayors identifying transport as their top concern. “There is a recurrent focus on developing and expanding metro and tram lines, renewing green bus fleets, developing pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, and improving traffic management,” Eurocities explains [pdf].
More than one-quarter of the mayors polled listed the climate crisis among their top three challenges in 2022. (Only the energy crisis ranked higher, at 29%.) About the same proportion said they were responding to climate threats with mitigation measures and ambitious climate neutrality targets. But many of them noted that preparing and implementing ambitious climate plans had not been easy, raising concerns about the best ways to bring local residents onboard, Eurocities says.
Fighting inequality, urban planning and management, the energy transition, and “strategic planning, sustainability, and well-being” were also among the top 10 priorities across Europe, boding well for climate action, which counts on all these aspects. In fact, as Eurocities points out, everything on the priority list—including economic recovery, housing, “services for citizens and citizens’ participation,” and “safety and cohesion”—will aid and be aided by climate action.
Eurocities also found that many mayors shared the challenges of “dealing with a new normal”—from Athens appointing a heat officer to Paris adapting infrastructure for flash flooding.
The proactive approach from cities is less apparent in Europe’s higher halls of power, said Eurocities Secretary-General André Sobczak.
“The mayors’ strong commitment to climate action comes in contrast to a worrying trend we currently see among national and European politicians, many of whom are turning away from their commitment to a climate-neutral Europe,” he said.
“Mayors also expressed frustration that they don’t have the necessary funds to speed up cities’ energy transition and make building stock more energy efficient, and called for more direct dialogue between cities and the EU to help facilitate access to cash,” writes Politico.
On the matter of climate funding, Eurocities writes, the mayors said “financial tools for cross-border projects and international collaboration” could be especially helpful.
Established in 1986 by the mayors of Barcelona, Birmingham, Frankfurt, Lyon, Milan, and Rotterdam, the Eurocities network today includes more than 210 of Europe’s major cities, representing 38 countries and more than 150 million people.