With a high-level delegation in Madrid for COP25, including Young Elected Politicians uniting for climate and debating the Green Deal, liberal leaders took center stage to highlight their commitment and concrete actions at the subnational level to fight climate change. 

The UN Climate Change Conference COP 25 took place in Madrid, and is designed to take the next crucial steps in the UN Climate change process. As the EU’s Assembly of local and regional representatives, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) actively advocated the achievements and commitments of European cities and regions in the fight against global warming. Part of the official delegation was our member and second Vice-chair of the ENVE commission, Jean-Noël Verfaillie. In Madrid he was joined by our members Manuel Alejandro Cardenete (Vice-Minister for Tourism of the Andalucia region – pictured below talking to media) and Francisco Igea Arisqueta, Vice-President of the Government of Castile and León (pictured below, talking to media); both are Ciudadanos, Spain.

Two of our Young Elected Politicians (YEP), Maximilian Reinhardt (FDP, Sindelfingen, Germany) and Henrik Wikström (Suomen ruotsalainen kansanpuolue, Finland), were also present (see also more further down this article).  

At COP25

During the conference, our delegation gave information & insights from their regions & cities, from the bottom up, to European Commissioner Frans Timmermans, to Nils Torvalds MEP (Renew Europe), offering them valuable data to fight climate change, while also discussing with our Young Elected Politicians how to deliver actions so that climate change doesn’t deepen the gap between generations but ensures that society moves forward together.

Jean-Noël Verfaillie (pictured below) also addressed the Deputy Head of the EU Delegation at COP25, Dimitrios Zevgolis, with a strong call: “Mayors and regional politicians are the ones who deliver, but not the ones deciding! We deserve a place on the global decision-making stage!”

Manuel Alejandro Cardenete also argued that we shouldn’t forget about making sectors like tourism more sustainable for our cities & regions as an extra means to fight climate change. Cardenete follows this issue closely as rapporteur on the future of tourism and sustainable tourism for the CoR.

 

Reacting to the Eu’s Green Deal in Madrid, Verfaillie also said:

We expect a lot from Europe and the proposed Green Deal is full of potential. But local and regional politicians need to be more involved, especially when we talk about just transition – we are the voice of the hopes and fears of European citizens and this voice needs to be heard!

Verfaillie also spoke about what happens in his region at the local level to fight climate change and what he hoped to get out of the CoR participation to COP25:

Climate Action: Liberal Best Practices

As cities and regions are at the frontline of climate impacts but also solutions, we present a series of climate actions implemented by our members in this folder, with examples from Andres Jaadla (Vice-Mayor of Rakvere, Estonia), Kate Feeney (Dun Laoghaire County Council, Ireland), Francisco Igea Arisqueta ( Vice-President of the Government of Castile and León, Spain), Dietmar Brockes (Member of the Landtag of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany), Bart Somers (Vice-Minister President of the Flemish Government, President of Renew Europe CoR, Mayor of Mechelen) and our former member and now MEP Valter Flego (Croatia):

Young Elected Politicians: accelerating climate action locally 

Under the heading ‘European Green Deal’, the European Commission’s President, Ursula von der Leyen, placed Europe’s decarbonisation and climate neutrality at the top of her political priorities. Yet Europe’s sustainable energy transition will only be successful with the full involvement of cities and regions. Therefore, the European Committee of the Regions invited 30 Young elected politicians (YEP) from all over Europe to work together on specific topics to come up with key conclusions and recommendations to accelerate climate action locally as a driver towards EU climate neutrality and compliance with the Paris climate agreement.

  • Ahead of his participation to COP25, Jean-Noël Verfaillie, Member of the Nord Departmental Council, France (pictured, above) engaged these Young Elected Politicians in a special workshop to offer clear solutions for improvement in transport as this sector has a huge regional and local impact. Participants agreed of an urgent need to decarbonise transport with local and regional authorities as key actors, exchanging best practices from their cities and regions such as Maximilian Reinhardt (pictured, below) from Sindelfingen, Germany discussing how digitalisation can help our climate with an intelligent parking management system which increases efficiency to find parking spaces, reducing Co2 and exhaust fumes in the inner city. 

At COP25, our YEPs were represented by Henrik Wickström and Maximilian Reinhardt, who discussed with Verfaillie how to deliver actions so that climate change doesn’t deepen the gap between generations but ensures that society moves forward together and closer to the citizens. 

Our YEPs in Brussels consisted of Emilia Wasielewska (Poland), Maximilian Reinhardt (Germany), David Kapusta (Slovakia), Henrik Wickström (Finland) and Kasparas Adomaitis (Lithuania). The Young Elected Politicians United 4 Climate took place in Brussels from 3 to 5 December 2019. 

Green Deal

The European Commission’s Green Deal is a chance to change the narrative on Climate Change. In a debate with European Commissioner Timmermans during the European Committee of the Regions plenary session, our Vice-President Ulrika Landergren called on Timmermans that the green deal must:

— ensure that targets are implementable in EU cities & regions 

— support the most vulnerable regions 

— be flexible

be based on recent scientific evidence

support the public sector to adapt it’s educational system

In the Media:

RCF Radio & La Gazette Nord-Pas de Calais interviewed Jean-Noël Verfaillie on his participation to COP25. Spanish regional TV focuses on the participation of Francisco Igea with an interview. Austrian radio FRO interviewed our YEP Maximilian Reinhardt while L’Indépendant covers the Green Deal at COP25 as an opportunity for local authorities, interviewing Verfaillie.