Will Climate Mitigation Ambitions Lead to Carbon Neutrality? An Analysis of the Local-Level Plans of 327 Cities in the EU

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Cities across the globe recognise their role in climate mitigation and are acting to reduce carbon emissions. Knowing whether cities set ambitious climate and energy targets is critical for determining their contribution towards the global 1.5~° C target, partly because it helps to identify areas where further action is necessary. This paper presents a comparative analysis of the mitigation targets of 327 European cities, as declared in their local climate plans. The sample encompasses over 25% of the EU population and includes cities of all sizes across all Member States, plus the UK. The study analyses whether the type of plan, city size, membership of climate networks, and its regional location are associated with different levels of mitigation ambition. Results reveal that 78% of the cities have a GHG emissions reduction target. However, with an average target of 47%, European cities are not on track to reach the Paris Agreement: they need to roughly double their ambitions and efforts. Some cities are ambitious, e.g. 25% of our sample (81) aim to reach carbon neutrality, with the earliest target date being 2020.90% of these cities are members of the Climate Alliance and 75% of the Covenant of Mayors. City size is the strongest predictor for carbon neutrality, whilst climate network(s) membership, combining adaptation and mitigation into a single strategy, and local motivation also play a role. The methods, data, results and analysis of this study can serve as a reference and baseline for tracking climate mitigation ambitions across European and global cities.

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews