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The climate is changing, and we are all going to notice the consequences all over the world. There are plenty of plans to prepare for this or even reverse the process. But what can you contribute as an alderman of a medium-sized city in the Netherlands? What is the impact of a climate measure on a local level? Rik Thijs, Alderman Climate & Energy in Eindhoven, takes us through his dilemmas, choices, and ambitions once a month.

What if we succeed? With this slogan, we worked last year, together with Helmond and a lot of people and organizations from the city, on the Climate Mission. With investments from Europe, the State, our municipality and partners, can we become climate neutral as soon as possible, in 2030, and commit to circularity and climate resilience?

climate log
You can read the whole series here

Last year I felt enthusiasm among businesses and residents during three city labs and two climate conferences to want to take steps together to achieve climate goals. Together with Helmond, we applied as a duo city for the EU Mission Climate Neutral and Smart Cities (EU Mission). At the start of the EU mission in 2021, it was indicated by Europe that the mission label would potentially free up resources and make the path to other subsidies easier. During the mission, it became clear that no funds were available to enable the acceleration. That was unfortunate, and I was bummed. Had it all been for nothing then? Was the effort and involvement of all residents then in vain? And do I then have to go back on agreements with all involved that we put our shoulders to the mission? I want to tell the honest story, but how? Have I raised false expectations? That was a struggle because I really don’t want all our efforts and ideas to be in vain. In the end, it was quickly clear: So we are going ahead. With or without money from Europe, but with a different ambition, because we will not succeed in being climate neutral by 2030 on our own.

All ideas are now bundled in the Climate Delta Plan for Eindhoven and Helmond. The plan that sets the course for both cities towards fossil-free, circular and climate-resistant cities. The energy and ideas are in our city and I would like to feed them, because I feel the need to accelerate, together with Helmond. Hopefully with some sub-plans we can still convince Europe to join us on sub-projects for climate neutrality. What if we succeed?