European cities sign climate change agreement, pledges to go beyond the 20% agreement
The whole idea with the Covenant of Mayors pact is to "go beyond" EUâ€™s 20% greenhouse gas emission cuts and 20% renewable energy by 2020. The German city Hamburg plans to reduce emissions by 40 percent by 2020. Paris on the other hand says it hopes to reduce emissions by 25 percent over the same period.
EUâ€™s Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said the plan, which will affect 80 million Europeans, is equivalent to reforest each year a surface larger than the whole of Hungary, or taking out from the streets more than 35 million cars or closing down 20 coal-fired 50MW power plants. At a conservative estimation the plan will save around â‚¬8 billion ($10.4 billion) in energy costs every year.
Cities in non-EU member states have also backed the climate change agreement. These include cities in Switzerland, Norway, Ukraine, Turkey, Buenos Aires, Argentina and New Zealand. In USA the New York mayor Michael Bloomberg backed the EU plan and said his city would aim to reduce emissions by 30 percent by 2030.
Committee of the Regions President Luc Van den Brande, speaking at the signing ceremony, said that the plan â€œis not for big cities aloneâ€ and that â€œsmaller cities and towns, as well as regions as a wholeâ€ should make the environmental pledge: