Climate-neutral cities are the goal of one of five EU missions under Horizon Europe. This mission aims to support European cities in achieving climate neutrality, providing citizens with cleaner air and safer transportation, reducing traffic congestion and reducing noise.

Other missions underHorizon Europeinclude climate change adaptation, cancer, oceans and waters, and soils. The missions have ambitious goals and aim to achieve specific results by 2030. We have provided more information on the former in a previous article: Horizon Europe – the EU’s mission to adapt to climate change.

Climate-neutral cities – mission objective

Cities account for more than 70 percent of global CO₂ emissions and consume more than 65 percent of the world’s energy. Action in urbanized areas is key to mitigating climate change and can make a significant contribution to accelerating the achievement of the legally binding commitment of EU-wide climate neutrality by 2050, to the EU’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by 2030, as well as to the goals of the European Green Deal.

In April 2022. 100 cities from the EU and 12 from countries associated with Horizon Europe were selected. All of them aim to achieve climate neutrality by 2030. and test innovative cross-sectoral approaches, including those related to citizen engagement, stakeholder management and internal governance. Climate-neutral cities are to serve as centers of experimental activities and innovation, which will support other European centers.

Climate-neutral cities – a sign of the EU mission

The EU’s Climate Neutral and Smart Cities mission mark recognizes plans to achieve climate neutrality by 2030. and aims to facilitate access to public and private financing for its implementation.

The EU’s mission mark also provides evidence of the development of a high-quality climate-neutral city agreement, which outlines an overall vision for climate neutrality and includes an action plan and investment strategy. Cities are working on climate neutrality with local stakeholders, including the private sector and citizens. In April 2023. The first group of cities presented the agreements, which were reviewed by the Commission with the support of experts, including from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Joint Research Center (JRC). After a positive review, cities are awarded the EU Mission Mark, which facilitates access to EU, national and regional funding and other sources of funding, particularly private funding.

Recently, cities that have received the EU Mission Mark are: Sønderborg (Denmark), Mannheim (Germany), Madrid, Valencia, Valladolid, Vitoria-Gasteiz and Zaragoza (Spain), Klagenfurt (Austria), Cluj-Napoca (Romania) and Stockholm (Sweden). They are pointing others in the direction of accelerating equitable environmental and digital transformation, and setting an example of co-creation of policies at the local level.

Polish cities neutral for climate

Polish climate-neutral cities taking part in EU’s 2030 neutrality mission. These are: Krakow, Lodz, Rzeszow, Warsaw, and Wroclaw.

Climate-neutral cities – financial support

The European Commission, together with a mission platform managed by NetZeroCities (, will support the implementation of agreements prepared by climate-neutral cities. Centers that have been awarded the EU Mission Mark can use it as a show of confidence in their plans in this area, especially when dealing with public and private funders. The Commission, through the mission’s platform, is expected to support cities with practical advice and funding programs, such as a €32 million pilot combined with a partnership program.

Until November 6 this year. A call for applications is underway for the next pilot program, which will be worth €20 million. Climate-neutral cities are to receive a total of €360 million in funding from Horizon Europe, according to the announcement. According to the assumptions, they will spend it on scientific and innovative research that will address clean mobility, energy efficiency and green urban planning.

All cities that have submitted their Climate Neutral City Agreements, whether or not they have been awarded the EU Mission Mark, receive feedback on areas that can be further developed with the support of the Mission Platform. The Commission expects that in October 2023. will receive further agreements for review.

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