Cities across Europe are striving for climate neutrality. And with a growing awareness of the role of transport in our emissions, leaders from cities across Europe are more committed than ever to share their best practices and make sure climate neutrality can be ‘mission possible’.
This was the message from the first day of the Eurocities Mobility Forum hosted by the city of Madrid. The Forum brought mobility experts and transport planners together online, to discuss the solutions, challenges, and visions for mobility in the years to come.
While the pandemic has been challenging, many cities participating in the forum have used the last year as an opportunity to radically re-examine their mobility mix. They have wasted no time in setting out to search for solutions to the issues of emissions, pollution and inactivity.
For example, host city Madrid has rolled out vast pedestrianisation and has incentivised the use of public transport despite a reduction in the number of people commuting to work. The city has focused on establishing a system where residents have choice over their mode of transport.
However, according to Samu Marton Balogh, the Head of Cabinet for the Mayor of Budapest, solving the most pressing climate and health issues of our time cannot be addressed by people’s transport habits alone. That’s why the Hungarian capital is embracing the idea of a 15-minute city, aiming to reduce the number of people leaving the metropolitan area by creating a liveable, more affordable city, with active mobility playing a key role.
But not all cities start with the same mobility realities. For Porto, the road to carbon neutrality is about acting on things they can control – electrifying public fleets and powering them with renewable energy, and expanding and improving the city’s public transport offer. Meanwhile, Stockholm are aiming to be climate-positive by 2040, and for over 30% of cars to be electric by 2030.
In the Forum’s third session, representatives from two more cities shared experiences of the pandemic’s effect on mobility, and what will be needed from the EU’s Urban Mobility framework in the future.
Since the first EU Urban Mobility Package in 2013, a lot has changed in mobility for cities – not least the due to the pandemic. The labour market is more regional than one decade ago, leading to longer journeys and larger intake areas. But over the same period, cycling and walking have also become recognised as real efficient and healthy modes of transport.
Representatives recommended that a deadline be set for fossil fuel road transport, and that an accompanying framework would help cities greatly, as well as encouraging the EU to be courageous on de-carbonising transport.
The last session focused on climate neutral cities – the ambitious project from the EU’s research and innovation branch (DG RTD) that started last year. This aims to get cities to sign ‘Climate City Contracts’ starting from next year and has citizen engagement and city-level innovation at its heart.
Key to this project will be listening to what ‘sustainable mobility’ looks like in each city as well as stressing the co-benefits of achieving climate neutrality, such as significant public health benefits. With such ambition contained within the mission, there is confidence that this goal can be achieved.
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