On Monday, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger delivered the keynote speech at the 4th Annual Covenant of Mayors Ceremony. Nearly 1,500 European Mayors attended the event, which kicked off EU Sustainable Energy Week. Schwarzenegger also announced a new partnership between the European Union and the R20 to support subnational climate change solutions, thereby reducing the burden on national governments and making international agreements more likely.
As Governor of California, Schwarzenegger passed some of the most sweeping policies on climate change, renewable energy, and energy efficiency in the world. In his speech, Schwarzenegger touched upon California’s success in implementing bottom-up solutions rather than waiting for national or international action, stating:
The old way was to wait for the capitals or an international agreement to create a sustainable energy future. We believe in a new way, in moving forward at the subnational level – in the states and provinces and cities – just like we’ve done in California.
The occasion marked the launch of a two year campaign aimed at reaching a new, post-Kyoto climate change agreement, culminating with the Conference of the Parties meeting in Paris in 2015. Schwarzenegger and European Commission President José Manual Barroso agreed to work on this required paradigm shift for a smooth transition to the green economy.
Schwarzenegger also participated in a signing ceremony with two new R20 members, Region Reunion, France, and Region Donetsk, Ukraine. The two new members will serve as hubs for training and planning to implement energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Agreements were also signed with two new R20 partners, Philips Lighting and Akuo Energy, who are supporting low-carbon development projects.
The Covenant of Mayors is a coalition of local and regional European authorities who have voluntarily committed to increasing energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources on their territories. By their commitment, Covenant signatories aim to meet and exceed the European Union CO2 reduction objective of 20% by 2020. At present, early 5,000 mayors representing more than 175 million citizens have signed the Covenant.
Monday’s events included panel sessions featuring President Barroso; Vice President of the European Parliament, Anni Podimata; President of the Committee of the Regions, Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso, and other European leaders. Topics discussed included: Sustainable Energy Investments: Innovative Financing Boosts Local Economies and Creates New Jobs; and Achieving Covenant Objectives Thanks to Technological and Social Innovation.
In addition to energy savings, the Covenant’s goals include the creation of skilled and stable jobs, healthier environment and quality of life, enhanced economic competitiveness, and greater energy independence.
For more information about the Covenant of Mayors and the 4th Annual Covenant of Mayors Ceremony, visit: http://www.covenantofmayors.eu.