The ambition of EU Mission Cities to reach their climate targets by 2030 has been given another important boost through Horizon Europe, the EU’s key research and innovation programme, and NetZeroCities, with new funding of up to 1.5 million Euros and access to expert support.

Twenty-six cities from across the EU and in associated countries of Horizon Europe will benefit from nearly 15 million Euros in total to become ‘Pilot Cities’, acting as innovation hubs as they test solutions for rapid decarbonisation.

The grants, awarded in packages of 500,000-600,000, 1 Million, or 1.5 Million Euros, will support Pilot Cities’ exploratory activities across a broad range of themes, from the electrification of construction and energy transition options to new methods of citizen participation in climate action and better systems of governance.

Pilot Cities will also receive direct support from city experts and have opportunities to learn from other cities over the course of the two-year programme.

The results and learning from Pilot Cities’ work will be shared in turn with non-Pilot Cities selected to participate in a ‘twinning’ programme – multiplying the impact of the programme on European cities’ efforts to become climate neutral.

These awards mark the beginning of the second cohort of Mission Cities to join the Pilot Cities Programme, bringing the total number of Pilot Cities to 79, as they follow the 53 in Cohort 1 who started their programme activities in the summer of 2023.

The Pilot Cities Programme is one element of NetZeroCities – the platform that supports the 112 ‘Mission Cities’ who have committed, as part of the EU Cities Mission, to reach climate neutrality by 2030.

The programme will also welcome new Pilot Cities in September 2024 as part of a third and final cohort. A call for applications from Mission Cities (who are not yet part of the Pilot Cities Programme) to join that cohort has been announced and is open until 18 March. The chosen cities will be announced in May.

Thomas Osdoba, NetZeroCities Programme Director, said:

“Cities are at the forefront of climate action and key to their success is the opportunity for exploration and experimentation, sharing knowledge, and scaling up what works. The Pilot Cities Programme offers cities concrete support to do exactly that and I wish them great success with their efforts.”

The Pilot Cities Programme team said:

“We are delighted to be welcoming a second cohort of cities and innovative activities to the programme and wider portfolio. It is inspiring to see such diverse activities seeking to overcome key city challenges and barriers to fundamental, systemic change, with the aim to unlock innovation capacity and opportunities in their pursuit of the Mission 2030 goal. We look forward to meeting the cities’ teams and partners in the coming weeks to connect, learn, and explore each other’s plans in more depth, and to begin to develop the cohort’s collaborative, peer-learning centred and innovative journey.”

Kent Ranum, Mayor of TRONDHEIM Municipality, said:

“The City of Trondheim is very proud to have been selected as one of 26 cities in the second cohort of the NetZeroCities Pilot Cities Programme. Our project aims to support further development and solve key barriers for the implementation of CCS at the city’s waste-to-energy plant, which alone will reduce our emissions by 20% and be crucial for achieving climate neutrality by 2030. We are excited to embark on this journey together with our industry partner Statkraft Varme and our research partner SINTEF, and look forward to sharing knowledge and learning together with other pilot cities in Europe.”

Radu-Nicolae MIHAIU, Mayor of the 2nd District Hall of the city of BUCHAREST, said:

“In harmonising with nature, we have not only envisioned a greener future, but we are actively building it. This victory would not be only for District 2 of Bucharest, but a step forward for a sustainable future.” Luka Korlaet, Deputy Mayor of the City of ZAGREB,  said:

“We are very delighted that our efforts to follow the path to a climate-neutral Europe by 2050 have been recognised and that the City of Zagreb has been selected to implement the innovative project “Activating Green Courtyards for Carbon Neutrality” through the EU-funded NetZeroCities Pilot Cities Programme and will contribute to the climate action and decarbonisation process acceleration. The involvement of citizens and experts from different fields, as well as sharing the knowledge and experience with fellow Piot Cities, will strengthen the capacity of the City of Zagreb to successfully test the innovative approaches designed to create a positive change and ensure a more pleasant, healthier and more beautiful urban and living environment that supports social interaction.”

Benoît Payan, Mayor of MARSEILLE, said:

“After a year of work on our Climate City Contract, we are very proud of this European recognition of the City of Marseille’s project. This support will give us additional resources to help the people of Marseille, in all neighbourhoods, to implement climate-friendly projects. The project will also structure the ecological contribution of local businesses by creating an associated observatory and also increasing the engineering support we can provide them. The “Marseille 2030 Objectif Climat” programme is the link between the European Union and the City in terms of climate. The ecological and climatic ambitions we pursue will be reflected more and more in the city every day.”

Dennis Kerkhof, Project Manager of the District Oceanhamnen in HELSINGBORG, said:

“With the political ambition to achieve climate neutrality by 2030, establishing a common framework and strong cooperation with the business sector and the city’s inhabitants is crucial. We will do this within the development of the Oceanharbor district in Helsingborg. This collaboration is central to achieving our climate goals. In this project, we are committed to bringing together various stakeholders to strengthen our ability to create lasting change and lead the way towards a more sustainable future. Furthermore, our participation in the EU’s Pilot Programme for pioneering cities gives us a unique opportunity to reflect on and learn from the experiences of other cities.”

Anders Almgren, Executive Mayor, City of LUND, said:

“That the City of Lund has been named a Pilot City in EU Mission Platform is an honour but also comes with great responsibilities. This is an additional important injection in our work towards becoming a net-zero city.”

Jon Andersson, Head of Environmental Strategy, City of LUND, said:

“By being a Pilot City, we can further accelerate our climate efforts. We look forward to being inspired by others and inspiring them in return. In Lund, the city administration, citizens, and other stakeholders are committed to climate neutrality by 2030, and to reach there, we need to work together.”

Representatives of Aarhus School of Architecture, Postdoc Kasper Albrektsen Cand.arch and Rolf Johnsen, Head of the Department for Climate and Energy, City of AARHUS, said:

“The City of Aarhus and the Aarhus School of Architecture is both honoured and delighted to be chosen within the NetZeroCities programme as one of the Commission’s Pilot Cities dedicated to scalable solutions for a climate-neutral Europe. We are thankful for the opportunity provided by the Commission and the NetZeroCities Team.

“The CO-SHAPE project recognises the significance of involving citizens, businesses, and NGOs early in the process to achieve CO2 ambitions and targets, the project acknowledges the consequences of delayed citizen engagement, often leading to local opposition to renewable energy plants. Against this backdrop, the city of Aarhus, in collaboration with Aarhus School of Architecture has forged a partnership to experiment with co-creation methods in comprehensive planning for peri-urban areas, including landscape qualities, climate mitigation, and biodiversity to address local needs and wishes, and long perspectives on landscapes and urban development, operating within the framework of comprehensive planning for renewable energy plants.

“Throughout the test phase, the consortium endeavours to demonstrate scalable methods that not only enhance the quality and liveability of local areas but also contribute significantly to addressing the climate challenge. The aim is to showcase how local and site-specific requirements can be integrated and recognised as an added value within the planning process. Ultimately, the vision is to create a just and sustainable future.”

Markku Heinonen, Development Director, City of LAPPEENRANTA, said:

“City of Lappeenranta, Finland is dedicated to achieving net-zero status aligned with the goals of the NetZeroCities initiative, and we look forward to collaborating on this transformative journey. Fossil free energy system requires bigger flexibility also on the energy demand side. Lappeenranta pilot will demonstrate a solution to provide this demand flexibility in the heating sector”.

Wolfgang Hafner, Head of the Department for Climate and Environmental Protection, City of KLAGENFURT, said:

“With the ‘Climate Funding 4 Cities‘ project, together with our cooperation cities Vilnius and Gozo, we are approaching local stakeholders by initiating pioneering activities to achieve climate neutrality. In addition, we will be testing innovative financing approaches to make climate protection projects financeable on a long term. We are pleased that the Cities Mission in Klagenfurt is gaining momentum and that our efforts will now receive financial support”.

Marit Vea, Vice Mayor for Environment and Transport, City of OSLO, said:

“Oslo is delighted to be selected as part of the Net Zero Cities Pilot Cities Programme. In our project, we will look at how to balance energy demand, supply and the grid capacity when construction, transportation and machinery are electrified. This is key for our work in designing an optimised and resilient energy system, ready to power an electrified city. In the project we collaborate with SINTEF, Hafslund and Bellona. Oslo looks forward to move this work forwards in dialogue and collaboration with other forward- thinking cities across Europe.”

Filipe Araújo, Vice-Mayor, City of PORTO, said:

“We are extremely pleased with the inclusion of the WAKE UP! project in the Pilot Cities Programme. This project is a significant step in our journey to make Porto a climate-neutral city by 2030. It involves numerous partners and our citizens, clearly illustrating our commitment as demonstrated by our Porto Climate Pact. It emphasises our commitment to innovation and civic engagement in sustainability matters as a crucial move to achieve our ambitious climate goals.

“The success of WAKE UP! reflects our dedication to integrating technology and information to empower the behaviour of Porto’s citizens towards climate action. We are confident that this initiative will not only encourage more sustainable behaviours but also serve as an inspiration for other cities aiming to increase their decarbonisation efforts.”

An official in the City of LYON said:

“This is great news for Lyon, for the city’s stakeholders and for its citizens!

“Submitted with five partners, the Metropolitan Mobility Agency, the Metropolitan Climate and Energy Agency, the nonprofit organisation Anciela, the Metropolitan Center for Employment and the University of Lyon 2, our winning project – a flagship in the Lyon 2030 approach – aims to create an emblematic venue on climate and resilience, combined with off-site programming.

We are honoured by Europe’s support and recognition. This programme is a tremendous lever for adapting our city and our economy, and for making Lyon an inspiring and fair city.”

List of cities to join the Pilot Cities Programme 

City EU Country (or Horizon Associate*) Pilot Activity Grant Allocated
Aarhus Denmark CO-SHaping Areas in Peri-urban Environments €500,000- €600,000
Bucharest Romania Urban Regeneration and Administrative Capacity Building for Sustainable Development and Emissions Reduction €500,000- €600,000
Copenhagen Denmark Flexumers4Future €500,000- €600,000
Eilat Israel* Accelerated decarbonisation in the tourism industry via the nexus of green innovation, cross-sectoral governance and systemic capacity building €500,000- €600,000
Espoo Finland Espoo Climate Community €500,000- €600,000
Gävle Sweden Mobilising Gavle Climate City Contract Transport Portfolio €500,000- €600,000
Helsingborg Sweden Pilot City Helsingborg Innovation District: Co-creating for Climate Neutral Building and Construction in Oceanhamnen €500,000- €600,000
Ioannina Greece Creating and monitoring of Climate Neutral Zones in Ioannina City District as pilot activities €500,000- €600,000
Lappeenranta Finland Integrated Digital Solutions for District Heating Optimization & Empowering End-Users €500,000- €600,000
Lisbon Portugal Lx Climate Lab €500,000- €600,000
Lund Sweden CoPilot Lund €500,000- €600,000
Lyon France The Climate Hall Lyon 2030 €500,000- €600,000
Marseille France Marseille 2030 Objectif Climat : a just pact to now act €500,000- €600,000
Oslo Norway* Power Up a REnewable society €500,000- €600,000
Porto Portugal Wider Approach to Keep Engaged citizens on sustainable Urban Policies €500,000- €600,000
Riga Latvia Doughnut Economics Approach for Sustainable Decarbonization and Citizen Engagement €500,000- €600,000
Stockholm Sweden Stockholm Pilot City for Climate & Health: Building Capacity to Scale €500,000- €600,000
Trondheim Norway* Cities as a Test Bed for Climate Neutrality: Implementing CCS in Waste-to-Energy for a Net-Zero City €500,000- €600,000
Zagreb Croatia Activating Green Courtyards for Carbon Neutrality €500,000- €600,000
**These cities submitted their programme proposals jointly and will work together during the project, with the first city being the lead city.
**Kosice and Bratislava Slovakia Building Power: Reducing Building Emissions and Energy Use in Bratislava and Kosice €1m
 **Pecs and Miskolc Hungary Modelling energy transition pathways in Pécs and Miskolc €1m
**Klagenfurt, Gozo, and Vilnius Austria, Malta, and Lithuania Climate Funding 4 Cities – Turbocharching citizen engagement and climate actions in EU-Mission Cities Klagenfurt, Vilnius and Gozo €1.5m


Notes for editors:

More information on the programme, guidance for cities applying, and eligibility criteria for Cohort 2 of the Pilot Cities Programme, can be found here.

Press contact: Alan MacKenzie –