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As the Paris Agreement's 5th anniversary approaches, EU regional leaders urge fast adoption of 55% emission reduction targets

7 December 2020, 16:09 GMT 6 min read

Regional Ministers urge EU Heads of State to cut emissions by at least 55% by 2030

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on Europe and the wider world, and its effects will be felt for years to come. As we face the resulting economic challenges, it is crucial we do so in a sustainable and resilient way. We already have the solutions to adapt to, and mitigate the effects of, climate change and it is vital that we now apply these solutions as we look to recover better.

Our regions represent 80 million citizens with a combined GDP of over 2.8 trillion euros. We welcome the European Commission’s leadership in placing the objectives of the European Green Deal at the heart of its bold recovery package.

Research shows that each $1 million (over €885,000) of investment shifted from brown to green energy will result in a net increase of 5 jobs. Therefore, we firmly believe that the European Green Deal can act as the growth strategy of Europe: building a resource-efficient, resilient European economy and ensuring stability and prosperity for future generations.

We also think it’s vital that resources allocated to the Just Transition Fund, to support a transition to clean energy and to help workers and regions that are currently dependent on high-carbon industries, to support those who propose a Paris-compatible phase out plan for fossil fuels to accelerate the phase-in of renewable energy.

However, we cannot afford to be complacent, because it is clear our task is only just beginning: the hard work starts now to make our society and our planet healthier. We call on EU Member States to increase the EU’s 2030 target for greenhouse gas emission reductions to at least -55% compared to 1990 levels, and to:

  • Take ambitious national actions to align economic decisions with the climate neutrality target and invest in net-zero emissions innovation and solutions that create new jobs
  • Ensure all investments are guided by the EU sustainable finance taxonomy and make finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development
  • Remove barriers to allow the growth of renewable energy technologies and a carbon neutral mobility
  • Double the annual renovation rate for existing building stock to accelerate a reduction in emissions across the construction sector, which has a key role to play in economic recovery
  • Support subnational governments in their efforts to reach their emission reduction targets

As regional ministerial signatories to this statement, we are committed to delivering greater prosperity for all whilst protecting our natural environment or even focusing our efforts on keeping global temperature rises to 1.5 °C. We are aware however that profound and urgent changes are needed now if we are to halve emissions in a decade which is crucial to reach climate neutrality in 2050.

We therefore urge EU Member States to join us in prioritising green recovery not just to support economies, but to set us on a path to climate neutrality. As regional governments we are shifting to climate neutrality strategies, reporting annually our climate targets and actions, and implementing regional policies to cut emissions in the transport, industry, waste and buildings sectors among others. 

Profound and urgent change is needed now to reach climate neutrality in 2050. We have many of the technological solutions at our disposal now to invest in the sustainable economy of the future – we need to work together to realise their potential.

Signed by the following regional Governors and Ministers of Europe: 

  • Nicola Campitelli, Minister of Urban Planning and Territory, Maritime Domain, Landscapes, Energy and Waste for Abruzzo  
  • Alonso Teixeira Miguel, Regional Secretary of Environment and Climate Change of the Azores 
  • Franz Untersteller, Minister of the Environment, Climate and the Energy Sector for Baden-Württemberg  
  • Juan Pedro Yllanes Suárez, Vice-President and Minister for Climate Change and Productive Sectors of the Government of Balearic Islands 
  • Ignacio Arriola, Minister of Environment, Territorial Planning and Housing for Basque Country
  • Dr. Maike Schaefer, Senator for Climate Protection, Environment, Mobility, Urban and Housing Development of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen  
  • Damià Calvet, Minister of Territory and Sustainability for Catalonia  
  • Tjisse Stelpstra, Minister of Energy and Climate, German and EU affairs for Drenthe  
  • Elly Schlein, Vice-President of Emilia Romagna  
  • Priska Hinz, Minister of Environment, Climate Protection, Agriculture and Consumer Protection of the state of Hesse  
  • Elise Ryder Wikén, Commisioner, President of Regional Development Committee of Jämtland Härjedalen 
  • Jaakko Mikkola, Regional Mayor of Kymenlaakso, Regional Council of Kymenlaakso 
  • Raffaele Cattaneo, Minister of Environment and Climate Change for Lombardy  
  • Johanna Mikl-Leitner, Governor of Lower Austria  
  • Olaf Lies, Minister for the Environment, Energy, Construction and Climate Protection for Lower Saxony  
  • Susana Luísa Rodrigues Nascimento Prada, Regional Secretary of Environment, Nature Resources and Climate Change for Madeira Island  
  • Itziar Gómez López, Regional Minister of Rural Development and the Environment for Navarra  
  • Gianni Lampis, Minister for Environmental Protection of Sardinia 
  • Jan Philipp Albrecht, Minister of Energy, Agriculture, the Environment, Nature and Digitalization for Schleswig-Holstein 
  • Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Scottish Government  
  • Anja Siegesmund, Minister for the Environment, Energy and Nature Conservation of the Free State of Thuringia  
  • Tonje Brenna, Governing Mayor of Viken County  
  • Lesley Griffiths, Minister of Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs for Wales  
  • Philippe Henry, Vice-President and Minister of Climate, Energy and Mobility for Wallonia  
  • Jeannette Baljeu, Minister of Industry, EU and International Affairs for Zuid-Holland 

Ministerial quotes in support of an ambitious EU target

“The subnational level must push for more ambitious climate targets. Just recently, at the conference of the environment ministers of the German Länder, we urged the European institutions to adjust their target and reduce GHG emissions by 60% by 2030. Based on a scientific study by renowned institutions, for Germany this would mean that at least 70% of electricity consumption would have to be covered by renewable sources by 2030. This would require at least 14 million electric cars and electrifying one-third of freight traffic on the road. Also, the doubling of the building renovation rate would be essential.”

Franz Untersteller MdL, Minister of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector Baden-Württemberg

"On the road to victory against climate change, we must count on all citizens and leave no territory behind. The Balearic Islands understand that the objective of reducing emissions by 55% by 2030 is crucial and will result in the preservation of the environment and opportunities for the island inhabitants."

Juan Pedro Yllanes Suárez, Vice-President and Minister for Climate Change and Productive Sectors of the Government of Balearic Islands

"We call upon the Heads of State and Government to endorse a more ambitious emissions reduction target of -55%. Regions have a significant role to play in achieving this target. After all, it is at the local and regional levels where the energy transition is taking place. However, we do need the support of national governments and the EU: clear and ambitious signals, support for the economic transformation lying ahead, and particular attention to those regions that are most heavily impacted by this transformation." 

Tjisse Stelpstra, Regional Minister of the Province of Drenthe
“More than half of all Hessian cities, communities and districts are already climate communities. Their common goal is to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to changing climatic conditions. We want to lead by example and call on the EU states to increase the EU’s 2030 target for greenhouse gas emission reductions to at least 55% compared to 1990 levels. The climate crisis does not stop because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to act immediately.“

Priska Hinz, Minister of Environment, Climate Protection, Agriculture and Consumer Protection of the State of Hessen, Germany