By Ahmed Aboutaleb, Mayor of the City of Rotterdam

In November 2019, Rotterdam delivered its own Climate Agreement, in line with Paris Agreement goals and in partnership with more than 100 companies and social organizations. Within 10 years, the city aims to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions by 50%.

Rotterdam faces a big task ahead – the city’s area, with its industry and port, contribute around 20% of the national CO2 emissions of the Netherlands.

In addition, Rotterdam is situated in one of the lowest-lying river deltas in the world and is therefore very vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Research, conducted yearly by the municipality, shows that three out of four citizens in Rotterdam are worried about the effects of climate change.

That is why the city government, with an active role from Vice-Mayor for Sustainability, Clean Air and Energy Transition Arno Bonte, took the initiative to make a climate agreement with over 100 private companies and social organizations.

For six months, and under the leadership of independent chairs, these private companies and organizations took part in five climate round tables divided into the following themes: Port & Industry, Built Environment, Mobility, Clean Energy and Consumption.

The outcome of these gatherings is 49 ‘climate deals’ that will boost the reduction of greenhouse gases and stimulate a CO2-free economy. The agreement contains plans for large-scale solutions such as offshore windmill areas, the construction of a hydrogen network to make industry in the port greener, the insulation of Rotterdam social homes, and small-scale solutions such as car-sharing and cycling classes for children.

I’m content that many different companies were part of the process that led to this agreement, including petrochemical companies, energy infrastructure providers, and private banks, as well as social housing corporations, Erasmus University and innovative mobility start-ups. Our agenda shows that if private and public partners work closely together, we can make progress. I am very pleased with the constructive discussions that have led to this result. Now is the time to act.

We want to use the energy transition not only to reduce CO2 emissions, but also to create new economic and labour opportunities. In order to do so, educational institutions and private companies must work together to develop the 21st-century skills that are needed.

The Rotterdam Climate Agreement marks a turning point for my city. Our ambition is to become the most sustainable port city in the world within ten years with a clean and circular economy.

But I know we are not alone in this transition. Cities all around the world are dealing with the causes and effects of climate change. The ongoing exchange of knowledge and lessons learned is of unprecedented value. Being a part of international networks like C40 helps us achieve our goals together. I believe in cities taking action and leading the way towards a sustainable future for everyone.

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