The Covenant of Mayors initiative for local sustainable energy

Created by
Giulia MELICA Scientific / Technical Project Officer
European Commission - DG JRC, Directorate C - Energy, Transport and Climate
Policies and Targets
Energy Generation and Distribution
Transport and Mobility
Urban Areas

Launched in 2008, the Covenant of Mayors (CoM) initiative is the mainstream European movement involving local authorities in the implementation of sustainable energy policies.

The Covenant of Mayors entails a commitment by cities and towns to go beyond the objectives of the EU energy policy by achieving at least a 20% reduction of greenhouse emissions by 2020 through sustainable energy actions.

The scope of the Covenant consists of emissions mainly associated with energy consumption in the territory of the local authority. Actions should be taken in those policy areas that can be directly influenced by the local administration: essentially the buildings sector (municipal, tertiary and residential) and urban transport, but also local electricity and heat/cold production and urban planning.

One of the commitments undertaken by signatories is to adopt and submit a Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) which is based on the results of the Baseline Emission Inventory (BEI) and includes all the planned measures to achieve the 20% CO2 emission reduction target. This is to be done within one year from signature of the Covenant by the municipal council. Data from BEIs and SEAPs are transmitted by each signatory to the European Commission via an online template.

Covenant cities also commit to submit monitoring reports, every two years from the submission of the SEAP, stating the degree of implementation of the programme and the interim results.

The fight against climate change is widely recognized to be a multi-level endeavour that requires coordination amongst different levels of government. Therefore, besides cities and towns, the CoM engages other public administrations which are in a position to assist signatories in fulfilling their ambitious goals: this is the case of Regions, Provinces, grouping of local authorities which can join as Covenant Territorial Coordinators (CTCs) and commit to provide strategic guidance, financial and technical support to signatories.

The Covenant of Mayors initiative has been a significant success with the number of signatories far exceeding initial expectations. As of October 2015, over 6500 cities and towns, involving over 210 million citizens have signed the Covenant and more than 4800 SEAPs have been submitted. Up to date information is available at:

JRC ensures technical and scientific support to the Covenant of Mayors Initiative. It has developed, in collaboration with the Covenant of Mayors Office (CoMO) the guidebook "How to develop a SEAP", the SEAP and monitoring templates and guidelines on how to report to the CoM.

Having in mind the specific nature of the Covenant, the different experience and conditions encountered by towns and cities as well as the large number of signatories which have joined the initiative, the technical assistance offered by JRC is essential to evaluate efforts and measures consistently.

The JRC regularly carries out analyses of the initiative, based on data from SEAP and monitoring reports, in order to evaluate the policies adopted by local governments and the contribution of CoM signatories to the achievement of the EU Energy Policy's goals. JRC also operates a technical helpdesk service via e-mail:
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