The voice of the AER, carried by its President Michèle Sabban and over thirty member regions, was strongly heard during the climate change conference, co-organised with the R20 on 31 January and 1 February, in Vienna (A).
Already prior to the beginning of the conference, the AER President had the opportunity to present the work of the Assembly on energy policies, youth mobility (Eurodyssey) and crisis summits during a meeting with José Manuel Barosso, President of the European Commission and Arnold Schwarzenegger, R20 Founding President. A further meeting on these topics has been planned with Mr Barosso, which will allow in particular the engagement of AER within the European Commission’s deliberations in terms of green jobs’ creation and the environmental New Deal, on which the Commission will work throughout 2013.
During the conference opening session, Governor Schwarzenegger emphasised principles that AER values highly: by stating that “politicians must be at the service of the people rather than at the service of parties” the Governor strongly called on elected representatives to rise above their party when it comes to the climate issue, as they do within the AER, which does not function by political group. He also requested elected officials not to wait for hypothetical national or international agreements in order to act, but rather to be proactive and create their own initiatives. Austrian Chancellor Werner FAYMANN illustrated in this regard the example of the Burgenland Region (A), which went from no electricity production in 1997 to a now energy self-sufficient region. Elected AER representatives, Leen Verbeek, Queen’s Commissioner of Flevoland (NL) and Vasco Cordeiro, President of the Azores (P) also gave proof of their pro-active policies in this field and of the resources and ways in which they have responded to the challenges of sustainable development.
President Sabban highlighted that the R20 and AER are glad to contribute with their network of regional representatives, experts and financial partners for concrete major projects. The latest example being the signing of a contract to provide Rio de Janeiro (BR) with ecological public lighting. However, Europe only accounts for 11% of greenhouse gas emissions. The struggle is therefore global as climate change affects everyone, even the “good performers”. With this in mind, the AER President announced the need and her willingness to assist in the establishment of an African, Asian and South American Assembly of Regions.
The battle for a sustainable world and green jobs for our youth, will be continued by the Assembly of European Regions in cooperation with the R20, for which President Sabban was re-elected President of the Board Friday, February 1st 2013.