Covenant of Mayors
  Covenant Coordinators & Supporters January 2013  
A regional strategy for climate neutrality
{{{Interview with Mayor Jan Hoekema, Portfolio Holder on European Policy for the Hague Region, The Netherlands.}}} The Hague Region is an urban area consisting of nine municipalities, three of which – Delft, Midden-Delfland and Zoetermeer - are Covenant of Mayors Signatories. In early January, the region decided to sign a Covenant Coordinator agreement with the European Commission to promote the initiative among its constituent municipalities and help the ones which are already signatories in the development and implementation of their Sustainable Energy Action Plans. Jan Hoekema is the Mayor of the Wassenar municipality and is European Affairs Portfolio Holder for the Hague Region. In this exclusive interview with the Covenant of Mayors Office, he touches on the strategic importance of joining the initiative and the key milestones to be achieved in order to head for climate neutrality.

Last year, you called on the 9 municipalities of The Hague Region – including your city – to join the Covenant of Mayors. Why do you think it is important to take part in this initiative ?

As a region, joining the Covenant of Mayors – and assuming the role of Territorial Coordinator – means bringing the cooperation with municipalities to a new level : from a regional to a national and European scale. It also makes it easier for us to learn from fellow European cities and regions, and facilitate the use of European funding instruments.

As regards local authorities, they all have to prepare themselves for a sustainable future. Because of the environment, but also to secure energy efficiency and reasonable energy tariffs in the future - favourable for a good business climate. These reasons alone should convince municipalities to sign the Covenant of Mayors.

How can municipalities benefit from the support provided by the Hague Region ? What forms of cooperation are foreseen ?

In 2008, the regional council of the Hague Region adopted a regional policy for the environment with ambitious climate targets : a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020, along with a 20% improvement in energy savings and renewable energy production. To achieve these targets, the Hague Region introduced the ‘Routekaart Haaglanden klimaatneutraal’ (ie, the roadmap to climate neutrality/ carbon reduction). This led to the parallel development of related regional projects : The Haaglanden Heat Strategy, the Sunny Haaglanden Campaign (promoting the benefits of solar cells), the campaign to encourage the use of green gas for cars, and an energy saving programme for sustainable housing. These regional projects fit in each local climate action plan, thus costing local authorities less personal and financial resources to reach their climate goals.

What are the main building blocks to achieve the goals of the climate neutrality roadmap you mentioned ?

The bulk of our CO2 emissions are caused by the heating of buildings (about 49%), glasshouse horticulture (27%) and traffic (24%). The strategy seeks to address these three challenges. The most pressing action is to reduce CO2 emissions by isolating new and existing buildings, and making heat installations more efficient and sustainable, notably by supporting solar energy and geothermal heat generation. To reduce the CO2 emissions caused by traffic, the region also subsidizes the purchase of cars powered by green gas instead of petrol or diesel. To make car owners aware of this, we launched a dedicated promotional campaign. In pursuing these climate actions, we also address the critical problem of air pollution in our region.

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  The sole responsibility for the content of this newsletter lies with the Covenant of Mayors Office. It does not necessary reflect the opinion of the European Union. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein. The Covenant of Mayors was set up with financial support of the European Commission and consists of five associations of European local authorities: Energy Cities, Climate Alliance, Eurocities, CEMR, Fedarene, and ICLEI Europe.

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