One of the major challenges Europe’s regions and cities are confronted with is climate change and its potential physical, social, economic, environmental and cultural impacts. Climate change adaptation measures should help to moderate harmful effects and/or exploit beneficial opportunities for cities and regions. In this context, the development and maintenance of green infrastructure plays an important role, since green infrastructure helps for instance in alleviating floods, storing carbon or preventing soil erosion.
Europe’s ecological footprint is twice the size of its land area (WWF, 2014), and the EU is heavily and increasingly reliant on imports to meet its resource needs (Eurostat, 2014). One particularly important aspect of the broader goal of reducing the environmental burden of society’s resource use is the transition to a low-carbon economy. The low-carbon economy should
contribute to reduce emissions, improve energy efficiency, and support smart energy management and related research and innovation. The aim is to decouple economic growth from resource and energy use.
Along these lines of thinking, the European Commission issued in 2011 «A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050». The roadmap is one of the long-term policy plans put forward under the «Resource Efficient Europe» flagship initiative of the Europe 2020 Strategy, intended to put the EU on course to using resources in a sustainable way.
This was followed by the Energy Union Package issued early in 2015 that sets out to cater for greater energy security, sustainability and competitiveness.
A low-carbon economy would have a much greater need for renewable sources of energy, energy-efficient building materials, hybrid and electric cars, «smart grid» equipment, low-carbon power generation and carbon capture and storage technologies. Hence it is important to mobilise the potential for renewable energy production and distribution in different regions and cities, having different territorial characteristics.