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Five hundred cities pledge to reduce CO2 by more than 20%

More than 500 European mayors will commit tomorrow to cut CO2 emissions by more than 20% by 2020. By signing the Covenant of Mayors, they pledge to save energy, foster renewable energy and raise awareness among their citizens.

The mayors will sign the declaration in the presence of EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Prime Minister of Spain. The Covenant of Mayors is a Commission initiative, supported both by the European Parliament and the Committee of the Regions.

Günther Oettinger, Commissioner responsible for energy said: "The Covenant of Mayors has become a key element of the EU sustainable energy policy. Regions and cities are demonstrating that climate mitigation is one of the best economic recovery strategies. Investment into the reduction of CO2 emissions and energy efficiency creates jobs which by their nature cannot be delocalised."

At the Covenant of Mayors Ceremony in the European Parliament, more than 500 mayors will sign the declaration. The Declaration commits them to analyse how much CO2 they emit at the moment, outline how they will reach the goal and evaluate their actions. They also commit themselves to raise awareness among citizens and to share best practice. The city of Heidelberg for example has reduced its Co2 emissions by nearly 40% in public buildings through energy monitoring stations and the 'Energy Teams' in the city’s schools. The City of Riga utilises the methane gas produced in the city’s waste tip to produce electricity and Antwerp uses a refurbished industrial warehouse as showcases sustainable building and demonstration centre for citizens.

Local authorities have a key role in mitigating climate change. Over half of greenhouse gas emissions are created in and by cities. 80% of the population lives and works in cities, where up to 80% of energy is consumed.