City Leaders Event on “Towards a Net-Zero EU by 2050” at Tomorrow.Mobility World Congress 2022

During Tomorrow Mobility World Congress in Barcelona, EIT Urban Mobility’s City Club held during the second edition of the City Event Leading Innovation for Impact. This event brought together a group of policy practitioners from across Europe in a panel discussion to discuss how to go from vision to action and set out the common objectives for achieving a Net-Zero EU by 2050.  


Today, climate change represents the biggest existential threat to our livelihood. The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows unprecedented changes in the world’s climate. For Europe, the report predicts an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events that will have impacts at all levels of society and across all sectors of the economy. The European Union is promoting the EU Missions, a new way to bring concrete solutions to some of our greatest challenges, that aim to deliver concrete results by 2030. The Mission on Climate Adaption is to support at least 150 European regions and communities towards climate resilience by 2030. The mission will foster the development of innovative solutions to adapt to climate change and encourage regions, cities, and communities to lead the societal transformation. For cities, mitigation and resilience are key for ensuring that large transport infrastructures remain accessible and effective in the face of climate adversity. 

In parallel, cities around the world are now being disrupted by a global energy crisis that urgently necessitates the diversification of energy sources to reduce Europe’s gas dependency.

Based on this disruptive scenario, the city leaders – from Barcelona and its metropolitan area (Spain), Riga (Latvia), Lublin (Poland), and Stockholm (Sweden) – agreed that cities need to play a key role in leading innovation towards a more sustainable future of urban mobility, increasing citizens’ quality of life and their level of happiness. 

“Our cities are not labs, but scenarios where real things take place.” Àngel López, City of Barcelona (Spain)

An emergency scenario of climate change and energy crisis

Decarbonising urban mobility must be placed at the core of a city’s climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. To achieve a deep decarbonisation, all aspects of the economy must change: from how we produce and deliver services and goods to how land use is managed. The social layer is also key in this challenging scenario. 

The debate around energy is also central. Cities need to rethink how energy is produced and consumed. Improving energy efficiency is fundamental in the current context of crisis at the European level, as well as to achieve energy independence. This necessitates a radical switch to reduce the city’s dependency on fossil fuels and accelerate the transition towards more sustainable sources, such as electricity and hydrogen. With the rising cost of energy in Europe, each city must monitor the infrastructure needed for these alternatives in order to be able to control the use of energy for the transport sector. 

“The promotion of active mobility and public transport remain key to decarbonising urban mobility.” Joan Maria Bigas, AMB Barcelona Metropolitan Area (Spain) 

Powerful collaboration between all segments of society

Working together is central for turning ambitions into actions in the challenging scenario that currently threatens our cities. Improving the cooperation between governments, businesses, academia, and civil society will contribute to achieve the net-zero goals.

“Innovation requires trust to build partnerships.” Karin Ekdahl Wästberg, City of Stockholm (Sweden) 

Innovation is on our side, and collaboration between all urban actors seems to be the key for recovery and resilience planning. In this regard, cities must be equipped with the right tools and capacity to manage the faster rhythm of the industry, thus alternative and more flexible procurement processes are crucial. Cities have to acquire the capacity to shorten the cycle to learn and scale up solutions. It is time to move from plans to implementations in the urban scenario. 

“We need to move faster from a pilot stage and implement good solutions that work in a wider city area.” Inese Andersone, City of Riga (Latvia)

Citizens have a key role to play in change 

It is crucial to bring citizens into the dialogue to set the vision for their city and define a clear direction on where they aim to go. Developing solutions with and for citizens is the key to build trust and raise awareness, delivering real change based on sustainable mobility principles. 

Cities should play a central role to ensure an effective and meaningful role and involvement of citizens in the innovation process. Today, the use of digital tools can help to encourage new forms of exchange and dialogue between citizens and the various levels of government. 

Cities adopting a leading approach appears essential to identify the most pressing needs of the citizens, be more flexible and responsive to embrace new innovations, and ensure a strong collaboration with other segments of society to create impactful solutions. In this regard, cities in the EIT Urban Mobility ecosystem work in collaboration with business, researchers and civil society to shape together the future of urban mobility and liveable urban spaces towards smart, green, and liveable societies. 

Have you missed the event? Watch our videoblog “I have a question for you especial edition on City Leaders” and learn about how to lead innovation towards a Net-Zero EU by 2050.