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EU conference: 500 cities pledge to reduce CO2 by more than 20%

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More than 500 European mayors have committed on 4 May 2010 to cut CO2 emissions by more than 20% by 2020. By signing the Covenant of Mayors, they pledged to save energy, foster renewable energy and raise awareness among their citizens. They have signed the declaration in the presence of EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Prime Minister of Spain. The Covenant of Mayors is a Commission initiative, supported both by the European Parliament and the Committee of the Regions.
Günther Oettinger, Commissioner responsible for energy said: "The Covenant of Mayors has become a key element of the EU sustainable energy policy. Regions and cities are demonstrating that climate mitigation is one of the best economic recovery strategies. Investment into the reduction of CO2 emissions and energy efficiency creates jobs which by their nature cannot be delocalised."

At the Covenant of Mayors Ceremony in the European Parliament, more than 500 mayors have signed the declaration. The Declaration commits them to analyse how much CO2 they emit at the moment, outline how they will reach the goal and evaluate their actions. They also commit themselves to raise awareness among citizens and to share best practice. The city of Heidelberg for example has reduced its CO2 emissions by nearly 40% in public buildings through energy monitoring stations and the 'Energy Teams' in the city’s schools. The City of Riga utilises the methane gas produced in the city’s waste tip to produce electricity and Antwerp uses a refurbished industrial warehouse as showcases sustainable building and demonstration centre for citizens.
Local authorities have a key role in mitigating climate change. Over half of greenhouse gas emissions are created in and by cities. 80% of the population lives and works in cities, where up to 80% of energy is consumed.

The Covenant of Mayors is an annual conference that has been initiated by the European Commission in 2009. With more than 500 Mayors signing the declaration this year, the number of signatories will raise to more than 1600 signatories in 36 countries representing 120 million citizens.
The European Commission is supporting the initiative by organizing the conference, fostering best practice on the website and helping local authorities to finance their energy actions through programmes such as ELENA which provides funding of Euro 15 million in 2010.

More information on the Covenant of Mayors and the ceremony: