The EU supports 100 cities on their way to becoming climate-neutral by 2030

by Renate v. Eicken

Cities are responsible for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions worldwide, as this is where most people live. This also applies to the European Union: EU cities account for only 4% of the EU's land area, but are home to 75% of EU citizens.

On a positive note, cities are in a prime position to drive climate protection and develop innovations for the world.

112 of them are now taking a bold approach to achieving climate neutrality by 2030 and have convinced the EU Commission with good concepts. They are part of an EU mission to accelerate climate neutrality in Europe: Capitals, large and small cities from 27 member states and 12 other European countries - from Amsterdam to Brussels, Madrid and Paris to Zagreb.

With smart ideas in the areas of "climate" and "digital", the selected urban municipalities want to become innovation centers and role models for other cities in Europe and around the world. Against the backdrop of the latest alarming report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on March 20, this is a hopeful and urgently needed step.

Nine German cities are also among the "100 Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities" of the EU program: Aachen, Dortmund, Dresden, Frankfurt/Main, Heidelberg, Leipzig, Mannheim, Munich and Münster.

Mannheim's Mayor Peter Kurz describes the "good energy" that participation in the mission selection process alone brought for the cities: "The application process alone was a benefit for us as a city, because it became clear that we can only achieve this ambitious goal through the cooperation of everyone in the administration, with the entire urban society and the companies.

EU missions are part of the Horizon Europe research and innovation program for the years 2021-2027 and aim to deliver "tangible results" in terms of climate change by 2030. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen: "The green transition can now be felt throughout Europe. But there is always a need for pioneers who set themselves even more ambitious goals."

The 100 mission cities will receive funding of 360 million euros to invest in research and innovation on clean mobility, energy efficiency and green urban planning.

Citizens are at the center of this. They should become agents of change through new forms of participation and contribute real-life suggestions for improvement on the ground.

In line with the motto "Do good and talk about it", the Cities Mission also offers opportunities for networking between cities and for sharing successful solutions. It is advised in this by the NetZeroCities mission platform. NetZeroCities: "Cities are leading the way in climate protection, but still face considerable structural obstacles. We support them by identifying and overcoming the root causes that hinder climate action on a large scale and creating a better life for citizens, their children and the planet."

Even cities that are not among the 100 candidates are to be motivated to act sustainably through various forms of support - on the one hand out of ecological necessity, but also so as not to miss out on innovative economic sectors worldwide.

Berlin has a special responsibility as the capital of Germany, which is the world's No. 7 climate killer with a share of just under 2 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The most recent IPCC report is unequivocally clear: the effects of climate change are even greater than in the previous assessment report. Hundreds of international scientists, who evaluated more than 100,000 studies worldwide, have issued an urgent warning: the speed and scope of the measures taken to date must be drastically increased! UN Secretary-General António Guterres summed it up in one sentence: Our world needs climate protection on all fronts - everything, everywhere, all at once!

Berlin must now decide whether it wants to be part of this and seize the opportunities for ecological and economic urban development worth living in.

Sources: EU websites,, German Association of Towns and Municipalities