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FAQs

The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM) is an international alliance of cities and local governments with a shared long-term vision of a world where committed mayors and local governments –in alliance with partners – accelerate ambitious, measurable climate and energy initiatives that lead to an inclusive, just, low-emission and climate resilient future, helping to meet and exceed the Paris Agreement1 objectives.

The GCoM serves cities and local governments of all sizes in all parts of the world, by mobilizing and supporting ambitious, measurable, planned climate and energy action in their communities by working with city/regional networks, national governments and other partners to achieve our vision.

The core principles of the Global Covenant of Mayors include:

Local Governments are Key Contributors: The Global Covenant of Mayors works to organize and mobilize cities and local governments to be active contributors to a global climate solution.
City Networks as Critical Partners: Local, regional and global city networks are core partners, serving as the primary support for participating cities and local governments.
A Robust Solution Agenda: Focusing on those sectors where cities and local governments have the greatest impact, the Global Covenant of Mayors supports ambitious, locally relevant solutions, captured through strategic action plans that are registered, implemented and monitored and publicly available.
Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fostering Local Climate Resilience: The Global Covenant of Mayors emphasizes the importance of climate change mitigation (also referred to as low emission development for the Global South) and adaptation to a changing climate, as well as increased access to sustainable energy.

The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy formally brings together the Covenant of Mayors and the Compact of Mayors, the world’s two primary initiatives of cities and local governments to advance their transition to a low emission and climate resilient economy, and to demonstrate their global impact. It incorporates, under a single umbrella, the commitments of individual cities and local governments originally put forth either through the Compact of Mayors, pre-existing Regional/National Covenants, and now newly developing Regional/National Covenants operating under the shared vision of the GCoM and principles and methods that best suit each region. Each of these Regional Covenants is managed by a Regional Secretariat and supported by local, regional and/or global city networks, as well as national governments and other partners. These Regional Covenants are managed and/or coordinated through Regional Secretariats that ensure streamlined engagement with participating cities and local governments. More information on
Regional/National Covenants is provided in FAQ 5 and FAQ 6.

The Covenant of Mayors was created in 2008 to implement the European Union (EU) 2020 climate and energy targets (at least -20% GHG mitigated). In 2015, Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete launched the integrated Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, extending the initiative to 2030 and incorporating adaptation as well as access to sustainable energy into existing climate change and energy requirements. Since 2015, Covenant signatories have voluntarily pledged action to support the implementation of the EU’s 40% greenhouse gas reduction target by 2030 and have adopted a joint approach to tackling climate change mitigation and adaptation. The Covenant of Mayors of the EU now becomes the European chapter of the Global Covenant of Mayors or “GCoM-Europe.” Its central activities are funded at present by the European Commission (EC). In Europe, the Secretariat is currently operated by the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), Climate Alliance, Energy Cities, EUROCITIES, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability European Secretariat (ICLEI Europe), and the European Federation of Agencies and Regions for Energy (FEDARENE).

Now, with the merger of the Covenant of Mayors with the Compact of Mayors, announced in June 2016, GCoM also brings in the support of global city networks, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) and United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG). More information about Regional Covenants established in earlier years under the leadership of the European Covenant of Mayors in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Africa as well as ongoing projects funded by the EC to support Regional Secretariats in North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, East & South-East Asia and India is outlined in FAQ 5.
The Compact of Mayors is a global initiative supporting mayors and city officials who pledge to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions, enhance resilience to climate change, and track their progress transparently. The Compact was launched in September of 2014 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, Michael R. Bloomberg. The Compact was activated under the leadership of the global city networks — C40, ICLEI, and UCLG — and with support from UN-Habitat, the UN’s lead agency on urban issues. As of today, there are more than 650 commitments from Compact of Mayors cities representing nearly 500 million people and 94 countries globally.

January 2017 marked the official launch of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, bringing together the Covenant of Mayors and the Compact of Mayors.

The creation of a single, global initiative to represent the impact of cities and local governments is an historic and powerful response by the world’s local leadership to the climate challenge. Increasingly, cities and local governments across the globe are heeding the call to act from fellow local leaders, and their response could not be more urgently needed as nations begin the work of meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Bringing the Covenant of Mayors and the Compact of Mayors together means a single, united voice on the crucial nature of city and regional action as well as simplified, objective-driven approaches including measurement and reporting to allow for greater recognition of cities’ achievements and contributions to reaching the Paris Agreement goals. It also means access to resources for individual local governments in the form of tools, guidance and technical assistance to support science-based, strategic, and high-impact plans for action, as well as increased access to knowledge-sharing and city-to-city exchanges. It is the broadest global alliance committed to climate leadership and action, building on the commitment of thousands of cities and local governments from six continents and 121 countries representing more than 680 million residents as of September 20172. Aligning efforts under a shared vision and common principles allows for greater collaboration between cities and regions across the world, bridging gaps and building connections for solutions, as well as increasing flows of funding to support and empower cities and local governments in their actions.

Yes, the GCoM signatory cities and local governments act to voluntarily meet targets for greenhouse gas(GHG) emissions reductions (or low emission development targets) for their whole community, identify climate risks and vulnerabilities, and implement mitigation and adaptation measures.

In addition, the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy also aims to address increased access to sustainable energy.

Regional or National Covenants will operate as local “chapters” of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy. These Regional and National Covenants (hereafter referred to as Regional Covenants) are being developed with the aim of supporting cities and local governments in different regions all around the world
by adapting the common principles of the GCoM to meet local realities (or in some cases adopt existing local initiatives as the local chapter of the GCoM where such approaches have already been developed). Each Regional Covenant is a member of the Global Covenant of Mayors alliance. Each Regional Covenant engages with cities and local governments in its geographic area to encourage local level climate action while simultaneously building a community of committed signatories to a single purpose global initiative.

Involving all relevant local, regional and national partners and city networks, including Covenant supporters and coordinators where they exist, Regional Covenants will:

• Mobilize new signatories around a locally relevant commitment that is aligned to the GCoM Mission and Vision,
• Facilitate access to tools, guidance, capacity building and technical assistance,
• Engage, communicate and share experiences with participating cities and partners, and
• Make available technical support structures that are as locally specific and regionally responsive as possible, while allowing for consistency, coordination and exchange of experience across all regions of the world.

Efforts of Regional Covenants will be supported by the Regional Secretariats, as established, as well as the Secretariat of the GCoM (hereafter referred to as the GCoM Secretariat). The GCoM Secretariat will promote coherence, identify synergies in engagement, and facilitate the exchange of best practice between Regional and National Covenants and organizations supporting local climate action. Where Regional Covenants do not exist yet, they may be established.

Where a Regional Covenant exists, cities and local governments may join the GCoM directly through the Regional Covenant Secretariat or indirectly through supporting partner networks. In other situations, cities and local governments may join through the GCoM Secretariat. Supporting partner networks will work with the GCoM Secretariat or the Regional Secretariats to help them ensure efficient help desk service, active coordination, and information exchange. A commitment to a Regional Covenant will automatically be considered a commitment to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy.

Cities and local governments formalizing a commitment to the GCoM must submit a commitment signed by an appropriately mandated official (e.g., Mayor, City Council, etc.).

This commitment should be submitted:
– Directly to the Regional Covenant Secretariat where one is established (see contact information below);
– Through their city/regional network that are partners to the Regional Covenant or GCoM3; and
– In all other cases, to the GCoM Secretariat ([email protected]).

Contact information for the Regional and GCoM Secretariats and their administrative helpdesks is provided below:
– European cities and local governments: please visit www.covenantofmayors.eu or contact [email protected]
– Eastern neighborhood4 cities and local governments: please visit www.soglasheniemerov.eu or contact [email protected]
– Mediterranean regioncities and local governments: please contact [email protected]
– Sub-Saharan Africa cities and local governments: please contact: [email protected]
– Latin American and the Caribbean cities and local governments: please contact [email protected]
– Japanese cities and local governments: please visit http://jpmayors.jp/information/573/
– Indian cities and local governments: please contact [email protected]
– All other regions, please contact the GCoM Secretariat [email protected]

Regional Covenant Secretariats in North America, East (including China, Korea) & South-East Asia, and India are currently being set up. Contact information will be communicated once available.

All partners to the GCoM are pleased to provide cities and local governments with information on ways to join and commit. Moreover, Regional Covenant Secretariats will engage with key local organizational stakeholders – including city networks – and provide coordination for follow up and city support.

Local governments that have made a commitment to either the Covenant of Mayors or the Compact of Mayors prior to the merger are automatically considered signatories to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy and the relevant Regional Covenant where one exists. Some adjustments to requirements can be expected as a result of the merger and will be announced in due course (see FAQs 9, 13, 14 and 15).

Cities and local governments committing to the GCoM as of 1 January 2017 will need to establish a targetcovering the territory of the local authority6
for GHG emissions reductions, make a commitment to tackle climate change adaptation and resilience, and increased access to clean and affordable energy.
Cities and local governments should strive to set targets that are at least as ambitious, and preferably more ambitious, than their respective government’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement. Further, they need to be in line with National Adaptation Plans (where these exist), and be consistent with the principles around energy access and urban sustainability embodied in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The commitment will consider regional priorities on commitments to mitigation, adaptation and resilience and/or access to energy7, maintaining an integrated approach to tackling climate change. Cities and local governments are, therefore, encouraged to take an active part in consultative processes within each region to ensure the initiative best meets local needs.

All cities and local governments become signatories to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy by adopting the requirements as detailed above – and which are summarized in a commitment document. To make a commitment operational, all cities and local governments joining the GCoM need to establish an action plan to meet their stated targets. This plan should be based on a thorough analysis of the local situation (e.g. main sources of emissions and their respective reduction potentials, main climate risks and vulnerabilities and their associated current/future challenges). The impact of their actions will be measured and monitored over time. Key data8 and plans will be made publicly available. This plan should set out how a city or local government intends to implement the commitments on climate mitigation, adaptation, resilience and/or access to sustainable energy. Cities making new commitments to the Global Covenant of Mayors will have at least two years from initial commitment to submit a plan.

Cities and local governments will have to report progress against established commitments on a regular basis. Guidance will be made available to support signatories at the start and throughout the reporting process, as well as when any updates are made to the process. See also FAQ 10 for further details on specific reporting requirements and formats under the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy.

The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy is a global alliance for climate and energy action for cities and local governments, led by cities and local governments.

A GCoM Board composed of ten mayors or local government officials provides strategic direction for the newly established initiative. This ensures that a bottom-up/city-led approach is embedded in the governance system of the initiative. The Board is co-chaired by Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, representing the European Commission, and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change Michael Bloomberg. Christiana Figueres serves as Vice-Chair of the Board. Note – in some regions, as in Europe, regional political boards further guide the work for the Regional Covenant9.

A “Founders’ Council” is made up of founding partners to both the Compact of Mayors and the Covenant ofMayors. This includes: C40, ICLEI, UCLG, UN-Habitat, European Commission, European Committee of the Regions, Climate Alliance, CEMR, EuroCities, Energy Cities and FEDARENE. It plays an important advisory role to the GCoM Board. The Founders’ Council, with its subsidiary technical working groups, where appropriate, will ensure that the GCoM continues to serve, and be supported by cities and local governments worldwide.

A Global Secretariat (GCoM Secretariat) supports the GCoM Board and key advisory bodies of the GCoM. The GCoM Secretariat also works to bring together best practices and support for technical assistance activities taking place through the Regional Covenants and ensures international outreach. Working together with the Regional Covenants, their partners and their Secretariats, the GCoM Secretariat facilitates the development of joint strategies, principles and standards for data management, research concepts and communication strategies, and raises visibility of the initiative at major events. The GCoM Secretariat is based in Brussels, Belgium.

Regional Secretariats coordinate Regional Covenants, serving and supporting cities and local governments in their regions in various ways (see FAQ 5 and 6 for more details).

The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy fully merges the Covenant of Mayors and the Compact of Mayors. As a new coherent initiative, the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy aims to take what is best from each of these individual initiatives and bring them together at a global scale to achieve the
greatest possible global impact. Cities and local governments will enjoy a fair amount of autonomy in establishing their own approaches to fulfil their commitments under the Global Covenant of Mayors and associated Regional Covenant(s).

The Covenant of Mayors in Europe and other regions (See FAQ 5 and 6) will operate as the local chapters of the GCoM. These will be called Regional Covenants under the umbrella of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, follow the principles in its Charter (available here: http://www.globalcovenantofmayors.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Charter-for-the-Global-Covenantof-Mayors-for-Climate-and-Energy-FINAL.pdf), and share a common vision and mission.

The Compact of Mayors will gradually cease to operate as a separate initiative and will be fully integrated by December 2018. Existing commitments made by cities under the Compact of Mayors will be honored through the Global Covenant of Mayors, and no changes to requirements will be made until no earlier than December 2018 – so for individual cities/local governments and their commitments, there is no change to commitment or compliance requirements today. No new cities will be recruited to join the Compact of Mayors as of September 2017.

At this stage, local governments already committed to the GCoM through the Compact of Mayors or the Covenant of Mayors will experience no changes. Local governments that have already made a commitment to either the existing regional Covenants or the Compact of Mayors should follow reporting requirements as established under that initiative10.

They may continue to report through any of the three existing city reporting platforms – carbonn Climate Registry (cCR), CDP Cities, and the Covenant of Mayors reporting platform (available in “My Covenant,” the Covenant Extranet). Further details on future reporting options will follow in the near future.

Today, all data reported by cities in support of their commitments to the Compact of Mayors is collected by either the CDP Cities or carbonn Climate Registry (cCR) platforms and is then combined centrally and made publicly available through the Compact of Mayors website. Cities and local governments reporting through the central Covenant of Mayors reporting platform make data publicly available free of charge through the EU Covenant of Mayors website. Key city data under the GCoM will now be consolidated and made publicly available through the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy website and shared with the UN’s NAZCA platform11. Efforts are underway to simplify and improve connections between each of these platforms.

Objective-driven, simple and robust reporting is a paramount priority for the GCoM, enabling cities and local governments to focus their resources on implementing their planned actions to mitigate or adapt to climate change and increase access to clean and affordable energy in their communities. The details of a refined approach to reporting are in development, in consultation with key stakeholders. The long-term solution for the Global Covenant should emphasize a seamless, easy process to achieve and report progress, while ensuring compatibility and consistency with national reporting requirements and the framework being developed at the UNFCCC level. Reporting requirements will also take into account different capacities, resources and specific circumstances of cities and local governments in the regions and will allow for uninterrupted monitoring of progress in the implementation of action plans for all committed cities. Any changes to reporting requirements will be subject to a prior consultative process including already committed Covenant signatories, Compact cities, the city membership of both global and local city networks and other relevant regional/national stakeholders with an eye towards minimizing the reporting burden for cities while maintaining sensitivity towards regional and national differences.

Key data12 reported by cities and local governments will be made publicly available, free of charge to all stakeholders on equal access terms. Additionally, no other government or other entity will “own” or exclusively control this data. Importantly, no data of a city or local government will ever be used for
commercial purposes by any of the institutions or entities involved in the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy.

A common minimum data set (key data) will be developed to track progress against the Paris Agreement and to provide an evidence base for increased investment in local government action. This dataset will take into account regional specificities, and be developed in consultation with cities and other key stakeholders as well as consider the work being undertaken by the UNFCCC. The aim is for this common data set and/or processes to be prepared for endorsement by the GCoM Board and other key stakeholders in time to meet the 2018 reporting deadlines for input by local governments in the 2018 Paris Agreement update and subsequent “stocktake” process. Upon confirmation of an overarching approach, a transitional period would begin.

Public reporting, sharing of and public access to key, freely available data helps build an evidence base on the greenhouse gas impacts, adaptation and energy access opportunities stemming from city and local government action in their communities. It will help measure the effectiveness of local action, “tracking” the emissions reductions and impact of adaptive strategies that are being planned, achieved and catalogued through community-scale energy and climate plans. This transparency is key to:
• Supporting cities and other local governments in taking further, more ambitious and more immediate climate action and measuring progress;
• Increasing capital flows into cities and local governments;
• Incorporating local actions into national approaches to meet or exceed the Paris Agreement goals; and
• Encouraging research by academia and others on the role of cities and local governments in the transition to a low-carbon and resilient economy.

No changes to emission inventory protocols or methodologies will be required from existing Compact or Covenant signatories until at least December 2018 (see also FAQ 15 for further details). A roadmap to harmonize approaches is being developed in partnership with key stakeholders and local government experts, in line with the following principles, endorsed by the GCoM Board on 27 June 2017:
– The GCoM aims to develop a common standard for the reporting on local community greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with commitments cities and local governments are making through the Global Covenant of Mayors and the respective regional chapters.
– This reporting standard should afford flexibility for different methodologies based on differential access to data, size of community, geographical location, and relevance of local sources of emissions.
– This reporting standard should be consistent with the frameworks required by national governments or other sub-national requirements that might be mandated for cities and local governments within their own national contexts, but be designed specifically also considering the UNFCCC’s framework for reporting under the Paris Agreement.
– This reporting standard should allow for aggregation of impact – of both the total emissions impact of the signatories to the GCoM- as well as accounting of the impact of their actions taken to date to contribute to the targets set forth in the Paris Agreement.
– The reporting standard must allow for the continuation of the monitoring and the assessment of the implementation of action plans by current Covenant and Compact committed cities and local governments (i.e. under the pre-merger reporting requirements).
– This reporting standard should further allow for the standardization of quantification of potential impact from proposed actions that aims at drawing the interest of potential financing institutions and donors at local, regional and global level, to invest and further the efforts of participating cites and local governments in advancing the goals of the Paris Agreement.
– The GCoM aims to expand the scope of this effort over time to consider standards, or guidelines, around risk and vulnerability assessments, target setting and climate action planning.

Until a consultation process for the GCoM reporting standard is complete and minimum requirements for a common data set are outlined, the GPC will continue to be the only emissions accounting and reporting protocol used by current Compact of Mayors committed cities and local governments. The two reporting platforms that accept GPC-compliant reporting are the carbonn Climate Registry and CDP Cities.

Similarly, cities and local governments committed under the Covenant of Mayors in Europe and other preexisting Regional Covenants will continue reporting via the Covenant Extranet – the online reporting platform for Covenant signatories in Europe using the Covenant “Template” and related reporting guidelines. For further information on the new reporting approach see FAQ 10.

For cities and local governments that have already made commitments through the Compact, current commitments will be honored through December 2018. During this two-year period, local governments will experience no change13.

Afterwards, those cities and local governments that have not yet done so should make commitments that strive to be at least as ambitious as, and preferably more ambitious, than their respective government’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement (see also FAQ 6). In the European Union and the European Economic Area this refers to the EU’s NDC of minimum -40% cut in GHG emissions by 2030. These commitments will encompass GHG emissions reduction, adaptation to climate change, and where relevant, access to sustainable and affordable energy.

For cities and local governments that have made commitments under the Covenant of Mayors 2020 or 2030 targets, action planning and other basic requirements14will remain unchanged.

This will not, however, exclude the possibility of further improvements after 2018 following consultations with all key stakeholders to the way measurement and reporting is carried out. To ensure key data is made publicly available, an updated data policy and reporting requirements will be confirmed in 2018, most likely via publication of key data already reported rather than through additional reporting by cities and towns. For more on reporting see FAQ 10 and 13.

No, if you have already made a commitment to the Compact of Mayors or joined the Covenant of Mayors, you do not have to make an additional commitment to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy until 2018. This means you are automatically part of the global alliance.

Your existing commitment will be recognized and no change is required to your specific target until at least December 2018. A commitment to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy translates into a commitment to set GHG reduction/low emission development targets that strive to be at least as ambitious, and preferably more ambitious, than your government’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement, and commit to climate adaptation and resilience as well as to ensure access to affordable and clean energy, develop a strategy to meet them, and measure and report on progress over time.

Updated requirements around target ambition (for Compact cities and local governments) and around publication of key data (for Covenant cities and local governments) may only come into effect after 2018.

The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy is committed to honoring and highlighting the great efforts of cities and local governments. The badge system for Compact committed cities and local governments will be honored through at least December 2018.

The specific system of defining and publicly recognizing milestone achievements will be aligned under the GCoM no later than 2018. Until then, cities and local governments will continue to be recognized through a combination of both systems.

C40, ICLEI and CDP are currently providing direct technical assistance, training, advisory support and analysis, and peer-to-peer learning programs to support to cities and local governments initially committing to the Compact. C40 and ICLEI provide technical assistance to Compact-committed cities and local governments, as resources are available. Should you be interested in exploring available support, please connect to your local C40 or ICLEI office.

The European Commission is deploying resources to set up Regional Secretariats and support technical assistance, training, scientific advice and analysis in the EU, the European Eastern Neighborhood Policy countries, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, India, East and South-East Asia, and Southern Mediterranean to facilitate the achievement of their respective commitments.

In addition, “Covenant Supporters” and “Territorial Coordinators” have been providing technical and financial support to Covenant of Mayors signatories in Europe and will continue to be important partners under the Global Covenant of Mayors umbrella (See also FAQ 20).

These resources will now be combined and deployed in a complementary fashion through Regional Covenants. Future efforts through the GCoM will be comprehensive. The initiative will continue to provide information, training and advice to cities, communities and local supporters.

The GCoM Secretariat will also conduct a needs assessment in 2017 to better understand the extent of demand for additional technical assistance. As soon as information is available on potential resources to support this work, cities and local governments that have expressed an interest for support will be notified.

Yes, all tools that have been developed for the Compact of Mayors and Covenant of Mayors will continue to be available. The tools will be updated to accommodate the merger and will continue to play a role in the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, with the possibility of further tools and guidance to be
added.

Covenant Territorial Coordinators and Supporters continue in their important role in the Covenant of Mayors in Europe, East and South neighborhood regions. In the other regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, it is recommended that specific status and role will be considered for the most relevant stakeholder groups (E.g. Advisory Board in Sub-Saharan Africa) supporting the GCOM signatories and understandings with them are formalized at regional or local level.

As a signatory of GCoM, your city is already working toward decarbonizing your economy,  making your territory more resilient to the effects of climate change, and providing sustainable and affordable energy to your community.  The Cities Race to Zero campaign offers a new, voluntary opportunity for raising your city’s current ambition,  setting science-based targets, and showcasing ambitious action at the global level, and in the run-up to COP26.

if you want to see the footnotes, click here
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