The European Commission announced 100 cities have signed up to the EU initiative for climate neutrality and become smart cities by 2030. In those plans, there are four Belgian cities: Brussels, Antwerp, Leuven and La Louvière.
Representing 12% of the EU population, most of the chosen cities are from the 27 Member States, with an additional 12 cities from countries associated with Horizon Europe, the EU’s research and innovation programme.
The cities will reportedly receive a total of €360 million of funding for 2022 and 2023 to start innovating toward climate neutrality by 2030, focusing on clean mobility, energy efficiency and green urban planning.
Moreover, the cities will have the possibility to create joint initiatives and ramp up collaboration while receiving tailor-made advice, assistance and networking opportunities.
“The green transition is making its way all over Europe right now. But there’s always a need for trailblazers, who set themselves even higher goals. These cities are showing us the way to a healthier future," Ursula von der Leyen, President of the Commission said. "We will support them on this! Let's begin the work today."
Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans for the European Green Deal added: “Cities are at the forefront of the fight against the climate crisis, and often the hub of the changes Europe needs to succeed in our transition to climate neutrality.”
The EU also encourages the cities to exchange practices between each other and to support engaging citizens in the mission.
The cities will develop Climate City Contracts, including an overall plan for climate neutrality across all sectors, including energy, buildings, waste management and transport. This process will involve citizens, research organisations and the private sector.
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An overwhelming 377 cities had applied to join the mission, in light of which the Commission is setting up support for the cities that were not selected.
With three in four EU citizens live in cities, urban areas are responsible for the consumption of 65% of the world’s energy.
Cities also account for more than 70% of CO2 emissions, making it even more important for them to innovate and support each other in their transition to become climate-neutral.