From 23rd May to 25th May 2023, the Assises Européennes de la transition Énergétique Conference gathered European city representatives, members of the European Commission, stakeholders, and national and multi-national organisations from the public and private sectors in Mission City Bordeaux. The three-day conference convened over four thousand participants to listen, discuss, and dive into the necessities of an accelerated and just energy transition under the umbrella theme of “Acting together towards carbon neutrality in 2050”. The conference focused on concrete solutions to reach climate neutrality, addressing factors such as accounting, consumption and lifestyles, carbon sequestration, taxation, urban planning and land use planning, citizen mobilisation, and governance.
NetZeroCities facilitated two sessions on Thursday 25th May, the closing plenary session “100 Climate-Neutral Cities by 2030” and a technical workshop session “Developing a 2030 Climate-Neutral Strategy” with Cities Mission Manager Patrick Child facilitating a closed-door meeting with the nine French Mission Cities.
Following his meeting with the French Mission Cities, Patrick Child commented that they are progressing very well within the Cities Mission supported by NetZeroCities. The French cities have a strong alignment on the European Commission and governance structures which is reflected in the French cities’ national structure, the first platform to facilitate peer-to-peer exchanges between cities. Notably, there is a need to engage the private sector even more to advance cities’ climate strategies, something that the national platform and its peer-to-peer exchanges assist cities with. Patrick noted further that the political enthusiasm is high, and the French cities are very motivated in their actions towards climate neutrality by 2030.
French Mission Cities [Credit: NetZeroCities]
The closing plenary session entitled “100 Climate-Neutral Cities by 2030”, moderated by Journalist Carine Rocchesani, was honoured by an expert panel, consisting of Patrick Child, Cities Mission Manager, Thomas Osdoba, NetZeroCities Programme Director, Fabien Perez, Deputy Mayor of Marseille, Andreas Tuvesson, representative of the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union and a recorded statement by the City of Vitoria-Gasteiz.
The plenary session took a deep dive into the services that NetZeroCities provides to support cities. Thomas Osdoba highlighted the importance NetZeroCities has on collaboration across cities to build a shared understanding of cities’ contexts and individual needs with an array of experts, the Climate-Neutral City Advisors, as well as support in specific areas such as domain sectors and multi-level governance, engagement, finance, and stakeholder engagement. It was further noted that the Pilot Cities Programme and the Twinning Programme offer a new approach for cities aiming to reach climate neutrality. The programmes provide targeted support to help cities face the current structural barriers and challenges in a cross-cutting, systemic, multi-level approach.
Patrick Child, Cities Mission Manager and Thomas Osdoba, NetZeroCities Programme Director [Credit: NetZeroCities]
In the afternoon, the NetZeroCities team held technical workshops for cities to develop an effective and penetrative 2030 climate-neutral strategy. City representatives heard presentations from Thomas Osdoba, Joanna Kiernicka-Allavena, Julie Delcroix, and Eugenie Cartron on what an effective climate-neutral strategy looked like; social innovation, systemic governance, and collaboration being at the top of the list. The session broke out into interactive workshops, that focused on identifying entry points and commitments required to engage stakeholder participation in cities’ strategies. The workshops concluded with Joanna and Thomas facilitating a Q&A discussion on the first reflections of the Climate City Contracts (CCC) that were submitted to the European Commission for review, as well as questions concerning finance and support on the economic model. Key themes were identified for cities to address opportunities, challenges, gaps, and common barriers to improve the CCCs and city collaboration.
During the conference, activities for Mission Cities and members of the Mission Board were organised, including a boat trip at the courtesy of the President of Bordeaux Alain Anziani and the Vice-President of Bordeaux Claudine Bichet on the Garonne river to observe the work of the city of Bordeaux. The trip allowed observation of the renewable energy installations as well as important learnings from the city of Bordeaux in its climate strategy. There were presentations and opportunity for questions and answers that brought important discussions and peer-to-peer exchange between cities.
River Boat trip: Claudine Bichet, VP Bordeaux, presenting the renewable energy installations along the Garonne river and Bordeaux’s activities in it climate strategy [Credit: NetZeroCities]
The Assises Européennes de la transition Énergétique conference provided three days of fruitful work and exciting conversations about the challenges to be faced on the road to climate neutrality, possible solutions and ideas for collaboration to achieve it.