Mayors against climate change: EU continues supporting the cities of the EaP countries

EU allocated €4.5 million to support to cities of the EaP countries, which are signatories to the Covenant of Mayors. This is the budget of the second phase of the EU Covenant of Mayors East project until 2020.

The EU launched the Covenant of Mayors in 2008 with the aim of fighting climate change at the local level by encouraging municipal and regional authorities to work toward the EU climate goals of reducing harmful emissions by 20% and increasing the proportion of “green” energy by 20% by 2020.

Non-EU cities eagerly embraced this mission; the desire for cleaner air and the opportunity to get involved in this noble international initiative made the Covenant of Mayors a huge success. The program now unites more than 7,000 signatories from different countries across Europe and Asia and has made resulted in hundreds of successful climate change prevention projects.

About 150 of the Covenant of Mayors signatories are representatives of Eastern Partnership countries; out of those, about 100 are from Ukraine. About 60 Ukrainian representatives from municipalities and environmental organisations took part in the conference in Yerevan launching the Covenant’s second phase. The conference theme was, “Promoting the sustainable development of the Eastern Partnership.”

“The EU will continue supporting EaP countries in their efforts to strengthen the capacity of local authorities to support sustainable development and economic growth in the field, including the creation of new jobs,”  says Lawrence Meredith, director of “Neighbourhood East” with the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations.

Representatives from eight Ukrainian cities, from Kharkiv, with a population of two million to Khotyn with a population of 10,000, joined Covenant of Mayors conference in Yerevan. According to the Covenant, each municipality must prepare an action plan for sustainable energy development and climate, register it with the European Commission, and then begin implementation.

The city of Bilgorod-Dnitrovsky, from the Odesa region, is a recent addition to the Covenant of Mayors.

“The agreement is great step for us,” says Bilgorod-Dnitrovsky city mayor, Alla Hinak. “When I’m back in Ukraine, the first thing I’m going to do is start putting together an action plan. We desperately need money for energy efficiency projects like insulating buildings and modernising street lighting. We have already started doing this and we are spending quite a lot from the city budget. It would help significantly if we can get additional funding.  We are well aware of how important it is to combat global warming.”

The city of Chuguev in the Kharkiv region is also taking steps in this direction. It joined the Covenant of Mayors in May 2014 and has now begun the process of harmonisation with the European Commission Action Plan on sustainable energy development and climate.

“We are working on reducing energy consumption and insulating buildings,” says Chuguev city mayor Galina Minaev. “We are cooperating with the United Nations Development Programme and the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO). There are other grant resources, and they are available mostly because we are the signatories of the Covenant of Mayors. Now we hope to raise funds for the modernisation of street lighting.”

It is not a secret that poor Ukrainian cities often expect participation in the Covenant of Mayors to partially solve their energy efficiency problems. Signing on and developing an action plan on sustainable energy development and climate is a kind of ticket that provides these cities with easier access to donors.

Grants for pilot projects can also be obtained directly. During the first phase of the Covenant of Mayors East, 19 cities from Eastern Partnership countries received grants for such projects through competitions; among these were 11 Ukrainian cities.

For example, the city of Dolyna in the Ivano-Frankivsk region, with 20,000 inhabitants, is a real veteran of the Covenant of Mayors. Dolyna’s mayor, Volodymyr Garazd, was one of the main speakers of the conference in Yerevan. After joining the Covenant in 2009, the city won a pilot EU grant worth €773,000 for a project to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions associated with apartment buildings. The project has now been implemented; it has provided comprehensive thermo-modernisation of residential buildings with at least 25,000 square metres of wall area, as well as the building of Municipal Centre of the energy audit.

Another example is Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region, which received about €1 million to modernise the outdated and worn-out equipment in the traction substation that provides electricity to the municipality.

The city of Mena near Chernihiv received €500,000 to modernise street lighting and was able to install 1,403 LED bulbs in lampposts, and introduce energy-monitoring street lighting.

The second phase of the Covenant of Mayors East is expected to include financing more of such projects in Eastern Partnership countries. A total of €10 million will be available for grants and a call for proposals is scheduled for January 2017.

The second phase differs slightly from the first phase. Eastern Partnership countries will have more ownership in the project: each country will have a national coordinator and secretariat devoted to the Covenant of Mayors. More emphasis will be placed on the parameters of the proposed projects, including plans for their implementation, creativity, and focus on long-term goals.  New Covenant signatories will also need to account for the EU’s updated climate commitments to 2030: a 40% reduction in harmful emissions.

“Participation in the Covenant of Mayors gives cities guidance and a better idea of what steps to take,” says Anatoly Dusko, the mayor of Baranovka in the Zhytomyr region. “The city is considering joining the agreement. Joining the Covenant of Mayors is a necessary step before we can really tackle strategic planning and sustainable energy development”.

For more information please visit:

The Covenant of Mayors website- http://www.uhodameriv.eu/news_uk.html?id_news=217

The Eastern Partnership pilot projects- http://com-dep.enefcities.org.ua/