Covenant of Mayors Office
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Article originally published in Cities Today
The Belgian city of Ghent is the first city to commit to the demands of the new Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, which was launched mid-October.
Ghent’s mayor Daniël Termont claimed the second covenant’s 40 percent CO2 reduction puts the city on track to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
Ghent was keen to sign the agreement now and make a statement to leaders in Paris for the COP21 negotiations. Termont pointed out that cities contribute 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
“Local authorities cannot deal with this problem alone,” said Termont. “So the city of Ghent has a clear message to policy makers of higher governments: we want to act, but we also expect you to act.”
To illustrate this, he noted that in Ghent, 85 per cent of CO2 emissions are linked to companies signed up to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which, according to its own hype, is supposed to be the cornerstone of the EU’s fight against climate change. The cap-and-trade system sets an overall limit and then companies trade emissions within that overall cap.
“Currently, the ETS system is failing to deliver,” stated Termont, who was more positive about the city’s own carbon reduction plan.
Ghent has a budget of €100 million reserved for actions that have a direct impact on CO2 emissions reduction and another €40 million for actions that have an indirect impact. However, Termont warned that the city will not achieve the 40 percent emissions reduction target by 2030 if it continues with its current plan.
He said the city will have to undertake additional efforts to reach the target, particularly by increasing its efforts with regards to housing, mobility, enterprises and renewable energy.
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