C40 Cities welcomes the European Commission’s communication on the EU 2040 climate target, which aims to set a path to a climate-neutral Europe by 2050.

C40 and our European mayors value the European Commission’s communication on the EU 2040 climate target and its impact assessment, which outlines scenarios and trajectories for post-2030 climate work, fulfilling its obligation under the European Climate Law and supporting the development of a 90% intermediary target for Europe necessary to achieve its climate neutrality ambition by 2050. We acknowledge that this communication comes at a challenging moment for Europe, where we are witnessing doubts and pushback against European climate ambitions, as defined by the EU Green Deal.  

European cities are ready to play an active role in the transition to a climate-neutral Europe that creates good, green jobs and benefits all residents equitably, with a particular focus on the most vulnerable, and we look forward to working together with the European institutions to put in place the necessary policies and investments necessary for these ambitions. However, we reiterate the need to: 

  1. Increase climate action ambition
    Mayors stress the urgency of substantial emission reductions, aligning with the European Scientific Advisory Board’s recommendation for a 90% to 95% cut by 2040 compared to 1990 levels. We support a more committed European stance, emphasising the “fair share” approach from the UN’s Integrity Matters report.

    With Europe already feeling the impacts of climate breakdown, immediate action is crucial to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C, per the Paris Agreement. Swift action will address environmental concerns and unlock opportunities in public health, job creation, green area preservation, and resource efficiency.
  1. Work with cities to enhance climate action and resilience
    In line with the Coalition for High Ambition Multilevel Partnerships (CHAMP) for Climate Action, cities must actively shape national energy and climate plans, and contribute to deliver commitments such as those set under the Fit for 55 green transition package. 

    Cities are ready and willing to work with national governments to set and implement climate targets and accelerate climate action, to end European reliance on fossil fuels, and to ensure strategies and ambitions are not based on an over-reliance on carbon capture and storage technologies.
  1. Speed up the flow of green finance into cities and enable a just transition
    As the closest level of government to residents, workers, youth, communities, and businesses, cities play a vital role in ensuring stakeholders are included in climate planning and implementation and that residents benefit from the opportunities of a green transition. 1

    To tackle the climate crisis effectively, there is a need for accelerated and expansive investment in cities and for a stronger recognition of the urban dimension of a just transition. We strongly urge the European Commission to amplify initiatives like the Social Climate Fund and the Just Transition Fund, fostering collaboration with cities and allocating resources from the European budget to empower cities in supporting the most vulnerable residents and those who might be impacted in the short term by the transition.  

Mayor of Milan and C40 Vice Chair Giuseppe Sala said: “I welcome the Commission’s proposal and I want to call for the 2040 greenhouse gas target to be science-based, ambitious and fair. We need EU ambition but we also need the voices and actions of those responsible for enacting these decisions in the streets of our European cities. We cannot underestimate the impact of climate change on the most vulnerable nor can we dismiss the concerns of those who might be impacted by the transition. Cities are best positioned to support residents bearing the brunt of the climate crisis, social and economic instability, accelerating climate action while protecting the most vulnerable and ensuring job creation. This is a just transition in practice and this is what we need to happen.”

Lord Mayor of Copenhagen and C40 Vice Chair Sophie Hæstorp Andersen said: “Cities play a crucial role in developing a more sustainable future. Before 2025, we expect to reduce our emissions within Copenhagen by approximately 80%. The next step is to become climate-positive by 2035. As mayors in C40, we urge national governments to work with us to accelerate climate action across Europe, and the 2040 target is no exception. In defining Europe’s 2040 ambitions, we should focus on the balances and synergies between climate impact, green jobs, health, and liveability. For us, this means not underestimating the leading role of consumption-based emissions and engaging our residents to promote a greener lifestyle.”

  1. Across Europe, over €200 billion per year must be invested to achieve the annual 3% retrofit rate required to tackle the energy crisis and meet European climate goals. Source: C40 own data []
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