In April, the European Commission published a selection of frequently asked questions (FAQs), along with answers, regarding the new EU mission area on Climate Neutral and Smart Cities. The EU missions are commitments to solve major societal challenges, such as fighting cancer, adapting to climate change, protecting our oceans, living in greener cities and ensuring soil health and food. They are integral parts of the Horizon Europe programme, the EU’s new research framework programme that began in 2021, and are a new way to focus on delivering these commitments.
The climate-neutral and smart cities mission aims to support, promote and showcase 100 European cities in their systemic transformation towards climate neutrality by 2030. The mission would make these cities into experimentation and innovation hubs for all cities, thus leading on the delivery of the European Green Deal and on Europe’s efforts to become climate neutral by 2050.
The first question addressed by the FAQs relates to how climate neutrality is measured and defined. The concept is that cities would aim to achieve net zero emission of greenhouse gases by reducing emissions as much as possible and developing mechanisms to offset the remaining unavoidable emissions. For the purposes of the mission, calculations could therefore focus on well-established norms around measuring direct and indirect emissions.
Reflections are ongoing with respect to reducing GHG emissions in cities supply chains. One possibility would be to adopt indicators for monitoring these GHG emissions by 2030, with the goal of including them within a broader definition of climate neutrality, ultimately by 2050.
It is also worth noting that the measures that contribute to delivering climate neutrality also have major co-benefits to cities and their citizens, including better air quality, reduced road deaths and congestion. While these co-benefits are not strictly within the scope of climate neutrality, work within the Commission between different Directorates General is ongoing to develop synergies with other relevant programmes.
Other questions addressed by the FAQs include how a city is defined within the missions, as well as further information on available funding and financing. Importantly, the selection of question and answers aims to provide a snapshot of the work in progress in the form of initial responses, however the information provided is subject to change.
For further information on the mission area and to access the full list of questions and answers, visit the following websites:
- Mission area: Climate-neutral and smart cities | European Commission (europa.eu)
- Climate Neutral and Smart Cities Mission – Questions and Answers (spring 2021)