News from NetZeroCities – the platform supporting the EU’s Mission of “100 Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities by 2030” – for immediate release:

Twenty-five cities committed to become climate neutral as part of the EU Cities Mission are on course to receive further EU support for ambitious climate-related projects, aimed at accelerating progress towards their 2030 goal.

Through Horizon Europe, the EU’s key research and innovation programme, the cities from across the EU and in associated countries of Horizon Europe will benefit from over 14 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 21 projects (with some cities having submitted joint proposals) and a broad range of themes, from emissions sources like transport, mobility, and industry, and the means of change, such as governance, social innovation, and data and digitalisation.

The selected cities, who will go through a formal Grant Agreement Process (GAP) to satisfy due diligence standards and receive expert support for improving the proposal, include: Helsinki, Tampere (Finland); Munich, Dortmund, Heidelberg, Leipzig, Dresden (Germany); Brussels, Antwerp (Belgium); Gabrovo (Bulgaria); Reykjavik (Iceland); Sønderborg (Denmark); Angers Loire Métropole, Bordeaux Métropole, Communauté Urbaine de Dunkerque, City of Paris (France); Dublin, Cork (Ireland); Athens, Trikala, Kalamata, Thessaloniki (Greece), Elbasan (Albania), Izmir (Turkey), and Gothenburg (Sweden).

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 delivered by NetZeroCities, the consortium set up to support cities in the EU Cities Mission.

The results and learning from Pilot Cities’ work will be shared in turn with other cities who are not part of the EU Cities Mission and have been selected to participate in a ‘twinning’ programme. Twin Cities will work with Pilot Cities to learn and collaborate on shared problems, multiplying the impact of the programme and hastening European cities’ efforts to become climate neutral.

These awards are the third and final batch given to Mission Cities to join the Pilot Cities Programme, bringing the total number of Pilot Cities to 104. They follow 26 awards given in January 2024, and 53 from the first cohort who started their programme activities in the summer of 2023.

More information on the Pilot Cities Programme can be found here.

Patrice Vergriete, President of Communauté urbaine de Dunkerque, said:

‘Great Dunkirk, which is one of Europe’s 112 climate-neutral cities in 2030, has been strongly committed since 2014 to meeting the climate challenge, reconciling transition with economic and social development and improving the living conditions and quality of life of its residents. We are delighted to now be among the Pilot Cities with an ambitious and innovative project that will enable us to accelerate our actions for the ecological transformation of our industrial port territory.’

Richard Shakespeare, Chief Executive, Dublin City Council, states:

“Dublin City Council is delighted to have received funding through the EU Climate Neutral and Smart Cities Mission to undertake a pilot programme together with Cork City Council that will allow us to activate 7500 staff across both our cities to achieve climate neutrality by working collaboratively with citizens, business, and academia to test innovative solutions that improve life for all. We are looking forward to sharing the knowledge and experience we gain over the next two years with cities across Europe and beyond.”

Ann Doherty, Chief Executive, Cork City Council said:

‘Cork City Council is delighted to be working with Dublin City Council and partners on this exciting behaviour change initiative. Our participation in the EU Climate-Neutral & Smart Cities Mission enables us to explore innovative approaches such as this to help us dramatically accelerate our journey to climate neutrality. Various research has shown the importance of influencing behaviour change in climate action and we are excited to trial practical measures with our local partners in this area. We are fully committed to working with everyone to meet the challenge of climate action, realise the potential benefits and make our city more sustainable and resilient.’

Press contact – Alan Mackenzie