1990 – 2020 | 30 years of local climate action

Our alliance for the climate has been on quite a journey over the last years (timeline as a pdf). Here are some of the highlights along our path.

The 1990s

In 1990 the foundation for the Climate Alliance is laid. Six delegates from Amazonia meet with representatives of ten cities and numerous organisations from Germany, Austria and Switzerland for a working meeting in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. They adopt the Manifesto of European Cities on an Alliance with Amazonian Indian Peoples and agree a comprehensive work programme.   

Climate Alliance Italy is founded in 1991.In the same year members help develop a manual on alternativtes to tropical timber. In March 1992, 16 cities (AT, DE, IT, NL) sign the founding declaration of the Climate Alliance association in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany. There European and indigenous representatives form the first board of directors.  

In 1993 Climate Alliance receives official recognition as a non-profit organisation. Climate Alliance establishes a network consisting of a European Secretariat in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and National Coordination Offices in Italy, Netherlands and Austria. The first annual conference is held in Enschede, Netherlands. Climate Alliance Netherlands (Klimaatverbond) is launched. Climate Alliance members set up the association’s first working group “CO2 reduction strategies in Climate Alliance” (today known as CO2 Monitoring). In 1994, a delegation of indigenous representatives travel around Europe, establishing direct contacts and deepening partnerships. Climate Alliance works on its first EU project, resulting in a catalogue of measures to be used as a checklist for members. Climate Alliance Austria is launched in the same year.

In 1995Climate Alliance Luxemburg and Switzerland are founded. This year Climate Alliance also collaborates with its indigenous partners on the topics of biodiversity and intellectual property rights. A first study on the rights of indigenous peoples in Amazonia is conducted. Climate Alliance continues to grow and reaches the 500 member mark in 1996. The first website goes online. In addition to funding individual projects being run by COICA, a legal aid fund is established to support indigenous partners. In 1997, Climate Alliance presents a first status report at the UN Climate Conference in Kyoto, which for the first time puts the scope and range of municipal commitment in the international spotlight.

The annual conference is held in Switzerland for the first time in 1998, where the tropical timber goal is redefined. José Luis González, Climate Alliance President , is the first indigenous representative to address the UN Climate Conference in Buenos Aires. In 1999, Climate Alliance introduces its members to the “Green” art project with artist Michael Müller. The project encourages the participation of cities to generate funds for indigenous projects.

The 2000s

The Climate Alliance International Conference in Bolzano in 2000 is an important milestone on the network’s journey. Ten years after Climate Alliance’s foundation, the Bolzano Declaration redefines the association’s CO2 emissions targets and identifies fields of action based on the principles of climate action and climate justice. In addition to halving CO2 emissions as a mid-term goal, a climate-compatible value for all greenhouse gas emissions per inhabitant is additionally defined as a long-term goal. Following the example of Climate Alliance, the idea for the Land and Soil Alliance is born in Bolzano.

In 2001, two indigenous representatives open Europe's first Amazonas Centre as a meeting-place and symbol of partnership on the grounds of an environmental project in Hamburg. In the same year, Climate Alliance joins the Steering Committee of the European Sustainable Cities and Towns Campaign, which coordinates European city networks on sustainability issues. In 2002, Climate Alliance draws further attention to climate action by rolling out a several campaigns. For the second time, a relay race raises awareness in Austria. Some 30,000 children collect Green Footprints through a campaign by the same name, making use of environmentally friendly transport – at first in Germany and later throughout Europe. Both campaigns enrich the European Mobility Week, which takes place for the first time. Climate Alliance presents the Climate Star award for climate action for the first time.

Following a visiting delegation of German and Austrian municipal representatives to Peru, the solar lamp project is launched in Iquitos in 2004 as part of apartner-ship with FORMABIAP, a programme focusing on the training of indigenous teachers. In cooperation with the teachers, the new technology is demonstrated locally. Climate Alliance further develops its CO2 emissions reductions goals in 2006. Emissions are now to be reduced by ten percent every five years. This corresponds to a halving of per capita emissions (starting year 1990) by 2030 the latest.

One of the most important developments in 2007 is the opening of a Climate Alliance office in Brussels, initially staffed by one employee. The office represents Climate Alliance in dealings with the EU Commission and EU Parliament as well as at all European initiatives and events.

At the Climate Alliance International Conference “Climate Action Across Borders” in 2008, taking place in both Aachen, Germany, and Heerlen, Netherlands, a first draft of the Covenant of Mayors is presented. The Covenant is the first supranational intiative that not only recognises the role of local authorities but also includes them within a common strategy. In the same year, the CITY CYCLING campaign is launched for the first time in Germany – later to be carried out in Luxemburg (TOUR Du DUERF) and other European countries. Climate Alliance develops the  EcoSpeed Region CO2 monitoring tool.

Climate Alliance Hungary is founded in 2009. A delegation of municipal representatives travel to Ecuador to learn about the impacts of oil extraction in the rainforest.

The 2010s

At the international Annual Conference in 2010, the General Assembly adopts a resolution calling on the EU’s Economic Recovery Programme to provide funding for municipalities. Members support  Ecuador’s ITT initiative to protect the Yasuní National Park from oil exploitation. Climate Alliance expands eastwards in 2011 within the framework of Covenant of Mayors East

In order to stimulate exchange and support financial applications, Climate Alliance establishes the Working Group of Financing in 2012. COICA, Climate Alliance’s indigenous partner organisation, introduces a resolution for an Indigenous REDD+ Concept, which is adopted by the members. The resolution proposes an alternative to the UN’s REDD mechanism for including forests in emissions trading. In 2013, the General Assembly adopts a resolution on EU climate and energy policies in light of the 2030 framework. It calls for binding and ambitious targets for energy efficiency, renewable energy and CO2 emission reductions as well as EU recognition of the crucial role of municipalities in climate action.

The Austrian Klimabilanztool (Climate Balance Tool) is developed with the help of the Working Group on CO2 Monitoring in 2014. Mayor’s Adapt, a new sister initiative of the Covenant of Mayors, puts the issue of adaption to climate change into the focus and is integrated with the Covenant just over a year later under the name of the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.

In 2015 the network establishes the Climate Alliance Working Group on Adaptation. The A Good Life is Simple campaign gets off the ground with the aim of raising awareness of the global impact of our everyday decisions. The network adds to its offerings for German municipalities in 2016 with the Climate Protection Planner, an emissions inventory instrument.  In 2017, the European Committee of the Regions lends official support to Climate Alliance’s positions on adaptation in a statement on the EU adaptation strategy. 

A new IPCC report in 2018 prompts Climate Alliance to appeal to politicians and society. Global warming must be limited to 1.5°C. Climate Alliance members stress this aspect in the Barcelona Declaration.

In 2019, Climate Alliance and the European Committee of the Regions adopt an action plan to strengthen the influence of the local and regional level in the fight against climate change. The emergency in the Amazon Basin plays a major role in the 2019 annual conference – 88 cities sign a declaration calling for joint action to protect the indigenous peoples of the Amazon Basin and the Amazon rainforest. The climate emergency movement takes off. Climate Alliance supports the numerous member municipalities passing climate emergency delarations.

In 2020 Climate Alliance turns 30. It is a significant year – in terms of global climate action. A perfect opportunity to reflect on the past 30 years  and also pave the way towards meeting the global targets of the next 30 years.