Key dimensions of cities’ engagement in the transition to climate neutrality.

Monica Salvia*, Filomena Pietrapertosa, Valentina D'alonzo, Paolo Clerici Maestosi, S.G. Simoes, D. Reckien

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Urbanization and the concentration of energy-consuming economic activities make cities responsible for more than 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, cities are becoming increasingly vulnerable to climate change impacts. The European Cities Mission launched a call in September 2021 to set out on a path towards “100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030”. A very large and diverse sample of 344 candidate cities in 35 countries (a subset of the 362 considered eligible to participate in the Cities Mission) was used to conduct this timely research aimed at identifying the main dimensions on which cities are working to achieve a smart and sustainable transition.

The research focused on five main dimensions: local climate planning, climate emergency declarations, participation in networks, international projects and competitions. Results show that only 20 (5.8%) cities have no experience in any of them, while there are 18 (5.2%) cities that have in their background activities that fall under all dimensions. Moreover, networking is the most important dimension, among the five analysed, for cities applying for this Mission, involving 309 cities (approximately 90% of the sample). This is followed by local climate planning, involving 275 cities (80%) and city participation in international projects, involving 152 cities (44%). Cities that have declared a climate emergency are less than a fifth of the sample and are very unevenly distributed in only 37.1% of the countries represented (interestingly, all the UK cities in the sample). Similarly, only 49 cities (14.2%) have received international awards.

The results provide insights into the main efforts currently being made by cities to engage in the transition to climate neutrality and may be useful to practitioners, scholars and policy-makers at all levels to improve their knowledge of the steps they need to take to support this process and amplify its scope.
Original languageEnglish
Article number118519
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of environmental management
Early online date1 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2023


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