Fifty-three cities are taking aim at the systemic challenge of rapidly and drastically reducing their emissions, paving the way for a climate–proof future in European cities by joining the NetZeroCities Pilot Cities Programme.
All of the selected cities have demonstrated their decarbonisation ambitions, as well as their plans to scale up their impact and create momentum locally and for other communities to reach climate neutrality. The Pilot Cities are located all across Europe. They represent twenty-one different European Union and Horizon 2020 Associated Countries and were chosen out of 103 applications involving 159 cities.
What is most powerful about the planned actions of the Pilot Cities is how they plug into unique local opportunities for transformation. Each Pilot City has identified pathways toward climate neutrality, taking action on bespoke combinations of six main domains, including: energy; waste management; land use; electricity for buildings; industrial processes; and mobility and transport. On this journey, each Pilot City will align their activities with existing and new partnerships, initiatives, and goals, to amplify outcomes and impact. Their tailored plans span two years and use multiple levers for change to make a rapid climate transition possible, such as democratic participation, financing and funding, social innovation, and technology and infrastructure. As a result, cities will innovate in how they and their city works, transforming everything from governance to finance, as an integral part of their pilot activities: such is the level complexity and change that Pilot Cities have ahead of them.
Decarbonisation is not the only thing Pilot Cities have in store: each of the planned activities will bring significant co-benefits. This is where the truly systemic part of the Pilot Cities’ journey comes in. To start, the well-being and engagement of residents is a priority in Pilot Cities’ approaches, evidenced by quality-of-life goals that revolve around priorities as diverse as improved public spaces, more reliable public transport, and increased stakeholder participation, among others. For the Pilot Cities, the climate transition is also an opportunity that will lead them to become more accessible, equitable, and liveable.
Underpinning this change is strong, ongoing support, including €32 million in grants coming from the NetZeroCities and funded by Horizon 2020, the EU framework programme for research and innovation preceding the current Horizon Europe programme. NetZeroCities City Advisors and Consortium partners will also be along for the journey, helping bring pilot activities to fruition. And soon, other cities will join in, taking part in twinning and teaming programmes that will open up the possibility for approaches to be replicated and expanded in other communities.
Pilot Cities are poised to test out new approaches, propelling the EU Cities Mission forward in its aims for 112 climate-neutral cities by 2030. By using such an open, learning-centred approach, the actions of the NetZeroCities Pilot Cities will illuminate the path ahead to a just, sustainable climate transition for all.
The NetZeroCities Pilot Cities Programme is run by NetZeroCities which manages the Mission Platform of the EU Mission on Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities (EU Cities Mission) and forms an integral part of achieving the goals of the Mission. Learn more about the Pilot Cities Programme here.