All cities are on the European Green Deal – POLITICO


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Burkhard Jung is the President of Eurocities and the mayor of Leipzig.

In poker, one card out of place can make a hand worthless. And when it comes to a fair and sustainable future, European cities are all in – now we just need our member states and European parliaments to give us the right laws.

Today, cities are ready to play their part in making sure we stay within the limits of what our world has to offer. However, surprisingly, some national governments and politicians seem willing to abandon a green deal that would put people at the heart of it – even if they agree scientifically on the fundamentals.

My city of Leipzig is over 1,000 years old, in a country that is only 151 years old – so, maybe it’s because cities are used to looking away.

So far I have heard arguments, wanting to delay the European Green Deal, and considering that changes to the sustainable economy would affect our most vulnerable regions, which are already suffering from the high cost of living. But there is no need for this to be the case, as cities are already using sustainable development policies to empower the communities themselves.

Grenoble is protecting the health of its residents, improving air quality by banning diesel cars in the city center. Utrecht shows how renewable and environmentally-based solutions can go hand to hand by exploring the combination of green roofs and solar, and ensuring that those who do not have private gardens can enjoy the benefits of the plants and animals that share their city.

Warsaw offers vulnerable communities new and better ways to travel by participating in shared finance, electric current. And with their public renewal, Vienna is making sure that its residents can contribute to the fight against climate change, right increase endurance against its negative side – this is what the European Green Deal looks like in our big cities.

It is also important to know how to spot a bluff when playing poker. And maybe it’s because we walk the streets and talk to the residents directly that makes cities so determined to support the conversation. Today, more than two-thirds of Europeans live in cities, and the actions of local leaders are essential to their quality of life – a responsibility we feel strongly about. That’s why, when we go to the stage of implementing the European Green Deal, it is the cities that are working, while other actors are blocking the progress.

Another argument I have heard against this agreement is that in the short term, the strengthening of environmental regulations in Europe would harm competition and innovation of companies and services. But as the mayor of a city with many large industries, I would be the last person to support legislation that would harm them so much.

Building sustainable wealth is not just a necessity – it’s a huge financial opportunity. Making our cities and industries energy-efficient will protect them from volatile energy costs and global uncertainty, while investing in green technology will create millions of high-paying jobs and boost the economy.

As any business leader can tell you, the biggest risk in investing isn’t stability – it’s uncertainty. And if we send one signal with European goals and international cooperation while sending different and inconsistent policies, in the end we will weaken the skills and prevent investment in the processes that are needed to combat climate change.

European cities have already set examples of this: Ghent has seen its gains from North Sea Port has increased since it began working with port authorities on initiatives such as the production of fixed and circular steel structures. And Helsinki hopes that the Construction Products Regulation, is working with companies and universities to develop his skills on the use of sustainable materials, including new methods of replacing traditional concrete.

Sustainable, clear and environmentally friendly policies provide opportunities for success and enable businesses to plan with confidence. And by agreeing to the European Green Deal, we can unleash its full economic potential, and ensure that we all have a sustainable and climate-neutral future.

Helsinki has been an early beneficiary of the Construction Products Regulation, working with companies and universities to improve the skills of workers using sustainable materials, including new ways to produce traditional concrete | Roni Rekomaa/AFP via Getty Images

Importantly, cities are also acutely aware of the cost of inaction – which was built home during the COVID-19 crisis – and that climate change poses a similar threat to industries and communities. Rising sea levels, frequent waves and extreme heat, droughts, floods and storms – these are not only possible threats, they are already happening, from Cologne to Bologna and Thessaloniki.

In terms of lost productivity, infrastructure damage, health care and more, the economic cost of inaction is also staggering – not to mention the incalculable human cost. The European Green Deal is our investment and our future – and we can’t afford it. We have more to lose by folding early than sitting at the table.

And yes, I’m talking now about European cities, and like ally of the surrounding villages. As the number of people in the town increases, where will the parents, grandparents and siblings of our newcomers live? Where is the food that sustains our children? Where do most of your employees come from? It is the rural neighbors that cities like Turin work with nearby to know the standard procedures.

Meanwhile, the latest lamb on the altar of the so-called rural and urban sectors was the Nature Restoration Law – an EU law that will not only protect nature, but also preserve the natural resources that provide essential services to rural and urban areas. in town in areas ranging from pollination to flood protection and carbon removal – which passed last week after receiving more funding.

From the recent controversy over internal combustion engines to the sudden push against the much-needed Environmental Protection Act, let’s talk about the opposition to the European Green Deal for what it is – a temporary and a fraud. But European mayors do not suffer from any of these problems. We are all inside. For us, it’s Green Deal or bust, and it’s time for everyone to put their cards on the table.


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